Tone Your Tummy With These Simple Exercises
If you’ve felt your waistline extending these days, then you might think it’s time to scrap the junk food and hit the gym. While dieting and exercising will help you lose weight and tone your entire body, you may have some areas that need more attention than others. In all honesty, we know your belly area can be a tough place to lose weight. So, make sure you’re living an active, healthy lifestyle to avoid accumulating excess fat in this area, then get to toning. Ahead, we have some exercises for your abs that will strengthen and tone the entirety of your abdominal wall. Try any of these seven simple moves for amazing results.
1. Plank hip dips
Planks are one of the best exercises for your core — they’re simple to perform, easy to modify for more of a challenge, and they hit both the upper and lower abs. This plank variation by Health not only targets the abdominal wall, but you’ll be getting some oblique work in as well.
Start in a plank position by getting into a push-up position and lowering your forearms to the floor. Make sure your elbows are in 90-degree angles and you keep your hips down to work the core. Then, when you’re ready to do your hip dips, twist from the waist to your right side and tap the floor with your right hip. Then, repeat on the left, twisting over to your left side and tapping the floor with your hip. Make sure that when you’re twisting, your hips are still, and you’re just rotating from the waist to ensure that your entire core is getting a serious workout.
2. Kettlebell swing
You may not think that swinging a kettlebell is going to give you a serious core workout, but this move as outlined by Men’s Health works wonders for your abs. You won’t need to do any crunches on the floor either — start by grabbing a kettlebell that has a weight that is challenging, without being so heavy that your form is compromised.
Begin with both of your hands on the kettlebell with your arms extended in front of you. With legs shoulder-width apart, bend at the hips to allow the kettlebell to swing between your legs. Squeeze your glutes and thrust the hips forward as you swing the kettlebell back in front of you to work your core. You’ll be using very little arm strength here to swing the weight — it will come from the momentum in your hips and core. Be sure to keep your lower back flat while doing this exercise, too.
3. Hanging leg raises
These aren’t easy, but your abs will certainly thank you for them. Hanging leg raises, as explained by Men’s Fitness, are not only excellent for the front of your belly, but you’ll be toning your back and shoulders as well. It’s the perfect all-over workout. All you’ll need is a pull-up bar to perform this move.
Begin by grabbing the bar overhead and allowing yourself to hang. Then, with legs as straight as possible, raise your legs up as high as possible, and lower back down. Do not swing your legs — keep them controlled throughout the movement, and lower with control as well to ensure each muscle is being worked to its fullest. If keeping your legs straight is too tough, start by keeping the legs tucked and crunching in this position.
4. Bicycle crunches
Regular crunches are not nearly as effective as these classic bicycle crunches, says Natural News. Bicycle crunches are much more difficult than your average floor exercise because they utilize your upper abs, lower abs, and oblique muscles for a total-belly workout. Try doing these for 60 seconds if you can — you’ll definitely feel the burn.
Start by lying on your back with your hands gently behind your head and elbows bent. Do not pull on your neck here — simply rest your hands here while you crunch. Elevate the upper body so that your head, neck, and shoulders are off the ground. Then, bring your left knee to your chest and extend the right leg while crunching toward that knee with your right elbow. Crunch with the opposite knee and elbow to repeat.
5. Stability ball plank
Planks reign supreme in the world of core exercises, and this stability ball plank as described by The Huffington Post will take your workout to the next level. Stability balls are great for improving balance, and balance comes from the core, so it only makes sense that a plank and stability ball combo will work your abs to the max.
This move is easy to perform, but tough to hold, so try holding it for two to five minutes if you’re feeling strong. Grab a stability ball and lean on it with your forearms. When you feel balanced, walk your legs back and keep your back from arching upward, and hold the plank.
You may have thought that burpees were only for your most intense cardio workouts, but the reason that so many fitness-enthusiasts recommend adding some burpees to your routine is because of how effective they are at toning and strengthening your whole body. You’ll feel this exercise in your legs, arms, back, and shoulders, but your core is going to get a major workout after a set of these, too. And, these will help you burn that layer of fat over your abs so that those muscles can shine through.
In a standing position, with feet shoulder-width apart, start this move by dropping to the floor and placing your hands on the ground in front of you. Jump your feet back into a push-up position, and perform a push-up if you desire (if not, you can choose to hold this plank position for a few seconds before continuing). Then, jump feet back in and jump upward, extending arms overhead. Continue the move for as many reps as you can, or for an even more intense workout, try a few of these intense burpee variations.
7. Mountain climbers
This is another tough move that is typically associated with cardio, but it’s unmatched in terms of what it can do to tone your belly as well, says U.S. News. It’s tough, but try holding this move for a minute before you rest. You’ll be shaping your entire core and working your upper and lower abs as well as your oblique muscles while you perform this move, and it’s way more exciting than your average set of crunches.
To begin mountain climbers, start in a push-up position, making sure that your back remains low and does not arch. Then, keeping hips down, quickly bring your right knee in toward your chest and back out, and then bring the left knee in and out. You should be moving your knees in and out as fast as possible without compromising your form.