The 31 Best Stomach Exercises for Stronger Abs

The 31 Best Stomach Exercises for Stronger Abs

When most people think “abs,” they think six-packs. But abdominal, a set collectively known as the core, includes the many interconnected muscles that run up the back and stretch down to the butt and the front and inner thighs, says Michele Olson, PhD, professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University–Montgomery, Alabama.

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You’ll get more from your Pilates, yoga, or core-focused moves—meaning a stronger, fitter bellyby following these tips: Move from your waist. Whenever you twist, make sure the movement happens from your bottom rib up. Keep hips still. Tighten up. Throughout each move, you should feel a tightening, similar to zipping up a pair of tight jeans, from one hip bone to the other. Exhale deeply. To help strengthen your abs and protect your lower back, be sure to exhale thoroughly with every breath.

Lie on your back with your knees bent in toward your chest. Hold 1 (3-pound) dumbbell with both hands. Extend your left leg to 45 degrees, keeping your right knee bent. Lift your head and shoulders and move the dumbbell to the outside of your right knee, pressing into a crunch with a twist (shown above). Pull your left leg in to meet your right leg and reach the weight up toward the ceiling, keeping your shoulders and head elevated off the floor. Now repeat step 2, but this time extend your right leg and keep your left knee bent. That’s 1 rep. Do 8 reps 4 times per week, and you should see results in 3 weeks.

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Lie on your back on a stability ball with your feet hip-distance apart on the floor and knees bent to 90 degrees. Place your right hand behind your head and your left fingertips on the floor for balance. Brace your core and lift your left foot off the floor. Extend your left leg, foot flexed. Crunch up, twisting your right shoulder and rib cage toward your left knee while simultaneously stretching your right leg straight (keep your foot on the floor). Return to starting position (left leg lifted and right leg bent); that’s 1 rep. Do 15 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

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Kneel on a mat on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders. Stretch your legs back one at a time to come into plank position (the “up” part of a push-up); engage your ab muscles. Your body should be long and straight; don’t let your hips sag or lift your butt too high. Imagine there’s a seat belt tightening around your waist, drawing your lower-ab muscles inward.

Kneel in front of a stability ball, draping your abs and hips over the ball. Place your hands on the ground in front of you and walk them out until the ball rolls beneath your thighs (as shown above). Once your body is straight (with a slight arch in your back) and you’re stable, hold for 30 seconds. Focus on lifting belly button and squeezing thighs.

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Shift your weight between your forward and backward legs to move your hips forward and backward (as opposed to around), pushing and pulling to keep the hoop spinning.

The 31 Best Stomach Exercises for Stronger Abs

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