Do you want a flat, toned stomach? Are you one of those women who follow motivational pages? Do you have an abdominal area which you would like to tone up, but do not know where to start? Well, allow me to give you a little bit of direction!
Before we get started, here's quick kinesiology lesson. Your abdominals are an integral set of muscles that support your trunk. Abs allow movement, hold organs together, keep your body stable and balanced, and protect your spine. There are four main abdominal muscles:
Transversus Abdominis: a.k.a the TVA muscle, is the deepest innermost layer of all abdominal muscles and is located underneath your rectus abdominis (the six-pack stomach muscle). The TVA muscle runs horizontally across the abdomen and is utilized whenever you move a limb.
Rectus Abdominis: a.k.a. "The Six-Pack," are the long, flat muscles on the front of the abdomen. These connect the body between the sternum and the pubis, and they allow the entire body to bend forward or sideways.
External Oblique Muscles: These are the outermost muscles of the trunk, located on each side of your abdominal area, and they allow the trunk to twist.
Internal Oblique Muscles: These muscles are located right along the hip bones and work hand in hand with the external oblique muscles.
Having a solid understanding of each abdominal muscle and how they function will help you find the proper exercises to target different parts of your core. However, it's equally important to recognize how certain lifestyle and workout adjustments can assist you in building a tight and toned tummy.
Firstly, you should begin with a clean diet, one that fits your body type. Abs are not only made in the gym, they're also made in the kitchen. Have you ever heard the saying, “You are what you eat?" This saying couldn't be more true. Clean eating means avoiding fried foods, soda, desserts, or alcohol. Instead, be sure to eat plenty of vegetables, grilled foods, 100% whole wheat grains, and drink tons of water. Always remember, abs start in the kitchen.
Secondly, do cardio, and do it often. Including 30-45 mins of cardio 5 days a week will help you reduce your waist size and flatten your abdominal area. I would recommend the treadmill (where you can walk on an incline, do circuits, or run), the Stair Master, a stationary bike, or my favorite, the Arc Trainer.
Finally, add targeted ab toning exercises to your routine. Find 3-4 abdominal exercises that will tone and define your abdominal area. Make sure you look for exercises that fit your body type. For example: I advise most women to avoid weighted oblique exercises, because these will give you a boxy appearance instead of a more curvy and sexy shape. Below are three exercises that I highly recommend for any ab workout:
SCISSORS - 4 sets, 50 reps (25 each side)
Target Area: Obliques
FRONT PLANK - 4 sets, 30 seconds at a time
Target Area: Transverse Abdominals
BASIC CRUNCHES - 4 sets, 50 reps
Target Area: Rectus Abdominis