Stomach toning exercises are not just for people who dream of showing off 6 pack abs at the beach. Rather, a lean midsection also helps keep you healthy and strong.
A Variety of Stomach Toning Exercises
You can achieve well-toned abs by completing daily exercises that target the stomach area. While there are dozens of different stomach toning exercises available, the key is finding ones that work for you, so you will be motivated to maintain a consistent routine.
If you are just getting started with your ab blasting regimen, you might consider sticking with these basic exercises that don't require weights, machines or other equipment:
- Standard Crunch. Lie on your back. Cross your arms and place them on your chest. Bend your knees. Slowly raise yourself up using your stomach muscles while pressing your lower back to the floor. As you reach the top of the crunch, slowly exhale. Then, slowly lower back down to the starting position. Repeat this process 20 to 25 times, then rest for about 90 seconds. Perform two to three more sets, while resting for 90 seconds between each.
- Reverse Crunch. Lie on your back. Raise your legs in the air and cross your ankles. Bend your knees slightly. Place your arms on the floor alongside of you. Rest your head on the floor while keeping your back straight. Slowly raise your hips about two inches off the floor. Keep your hips steady without rolling them backwards. Hold this position for about three seconds while squeezing your abdominal muscles. Slowly lower your hips back to the floor and repeat the process. Complete 20 reps, then take a 90 second break before completing two more sets.
These advanced abdominal exercises require dumbbells:
- Arm Pull Over Straight-Leg Crunch. Grab a pair of 10- to 12-pound dumbbells and lie on your back with your arms placed behind you. Extend your legs and bring your arms up over your chest and lift your shoulders off the mat while raising your legs until they're perpendicular to the floor. Return to the starting position without letting your legs touch the floor. Complete 20 reps.
- Side Bend. Hold a pair of lightweight dumbbells over your head, with your elbows slightly bent. Keep your back straight as you slowly bend directly to your right as far as possible without twisting your upper body. Pause, and return to an upright position. Then, repeat the exercise bending to the left as far as possible. Do 15 reps on each side.
With a Twist
These stomach exercises include twisting your body slightly to work the sides of your abs:
- Twisting Windmill. Lie on your back with your arms extended out to the sides. Raise your legs until they're perpendicular to the floor. Lower your legs to the left side of your body so you meet the floor a few inches away from your left hand, then bring them back to center. Repeat, lowering your legs to the opposite side. Do 12 reps.
- The Bicycle. Lie on your back and place your hands behind your head, with your fingers laced together. Next, bring your knees up to your chest and begin to rotate them at a 45-degree angle. The motion should resemble peddling a bicycle. As you are peddling, touch your left elbow to your right knee and then your right elbow to your left knee. Do 15 reps.
If you don't have money to hire a personal trainer to walk you through your stomach toning exercises consider the following options:
- Books. There are thousands of ab strengthening books available in stores and online. Most feature detailed diagrams of the stomach exercises listed above.
- Online Videos. The Internet is filled with free instructional video clips that illustrate proper form for ab exercises.
- DVDs. Most local libraries have vast DVD collections that feature top-rated instruction for creating a washboard stomach.
While a combination of the aforementioned abdominal exercises will help strengthen your stomach muscles, your efforts will likely go unnoticed unless you reduce the layer of fat around your midsection. You can shed belly bulge and show off your ripped abs by eating a low-fat diet, drinking plenty of water and increasing your aerobic activity.