When asked which body part they are most self-conscious of, many women answer with ‘my stomach’. Aging, hormonal fluctuations, and childbirth can all wreak havoc on the abdominal area, leaving it weak and flabby.
Although it may seem virtually impossible to achieve washboard abs, it is not far out of reach. By performing toning moves specifically designed to target each area of the abdominals, you can create an overall toned package that will give you a flat stomach and a defined waistline.
Aside from knowing which moves are the most effective, you should also know which moves are ineffective. Of all the known abdominal exercises available, sit-ups and crunches are the least effective. These moves put tremendous strain on your spine, and are more harmful than they are beneficial.
Why Crunches Do Not Work
If you can, imagine that your spine is like a credit card. If you repeatedly bend the card back and forth, the plastic in the middle becomes weak, and will break. Your spine works in much the same way.
Repeatedly bending the spine to perform a crunch places an excessive amount of strain on the bending point, which can eventually lead to a weak and fractured vertebra. Studies have shown that individuals who perform large amounts of crunches every day suffer from ailments such as herniated discs, bulging discs, and low back pain.
If crunches are an incorrect choice, which exercises should be used in their place?
The following are three of the most effective moves for burning belly fat and trimming inches off your waistline.
Stomach flattening exercise #1: Woodchoppers
Stand up straight with your feet hip width apart, and a medium- weight dumbbell grasped firmly in your hands. Extend your arms overhead and slightly off to the left, so that the dumbbell is above your left shoulder. Keeping your arms straight, rotate your torso to the right and bring your arms down until your hands are beside your right hip. This should mimic the motion of chopping a piece of wood with an ax.
Straighten your torso and repeat the movement. Perform 15 woodchoppers on one side, before switching to the other side. Remember to keep your abdominal muscles tight throughout entire movement to prevent back injury. This move not only tightens the upper and lower abdominal muscles, but also the obliques (sides).
Stomach flattening exercise #2: Planks
This is an extremely popular yoga move proven to tighten and tone all areas of the abdomen. Lie face down on the floor, as if preparing to perform a push-up. Your elbows should be bent, with your forearms and toes resting on the floor. Straighten your body to lift your hips off the ground, so your forearms and toes support your entire body weight.
Your body should be in a straight line, with no arching. Hold this position for as long as possible before lowering your body to the floor.
Stomach flattening exercise #3: V-Twists
Sit on the floor while holding a 5- pound weight in your hands, your legs should extend in front of you. Hold the weight to your chest and lean back slightly.
Bend your knees and raise your legs off the floor, so your body is now in a ‘V’ position. Keep your abdominal muscles tight, and your back straight.
Slowly rotate your torso to the right, and try to touch the floor with the weight. Come back to the starting position, and then rotate to the left. Perform 15 moves on each side.
This move works all areas of the abdominals. If your abdominal muscles are not strong enough to support your legs being completely off the floor, you may keep them extended in front of you.
With a little hard work and the correct exercises, you can burn excess belly fat and achieve the flat stomach that all women want.