Written specifically to help women (and men!) achieve optimum health and fitness by using scientific ways to burn calories through exercise and diet.
When you are exercising it is essential that you focus on a significant muscle group which is often neglected called the transverse abdominals. These are the central muscles and they are often neglected by accident as much as by design.
Most stomach exercises focus on the vertical abs - the six-pack which you so often see in TV ads and in magazines - and with the focus on these it is perhaps not surprising. Even crunches, the most popular of abdominal exercises, do little for the transverse abdominals. But, these muscles are among the most important and should be targeted. They provide support to all areas of your torso including to your lower-back muscles. Any exercise routine with an aim of flattening or shaping the stomach should focus on these important muscles.
The following exercises will assist with developing a more complete abdominal workout and assist with that flat tummy we all crave. As with all exercise routines ensure you warm up properly before starting on these exercises:
The Pelvic Tilt
Lie on a flat surface such as a bench or the floor using a mat or a towel to cushion yourself. Bend you knees until your feet are flat on the floor. Keeping your upper body on the floor throughout slowly and with a controlled movement raise your hips from the floor. Hold it at that position for a few seconds at the top of the arc and then lower it slowly maintaining control throughout. It is important that you do not allow your body to drop suddenly while lowering as you will not be using your muscles adequately if you do. You should do a full set of these.
The Crunchless Crunch
This exercise sounds easy but can be difficult to do well. It uses different muscles to those normally used and can be tough to get right at first. Essentially in involves contracting your stomach muscles to pull your belly button back towards your spine, compressing your stomach as you do so. You can either try this lying on your back or in a kneeling position. To start relax your body. Then slowly contract your stomach as if you are pulling your belly button backwards. Hold this for ten seconds then release slowly. Once you find ten seconds easy repeat it for longer. Building this up over time will lead to a strengthening and tightening of the transverse abdominals.
Again, lie on the floor, upper body and back tight to the ground. Place your hands under your buttocks to raise you slightly from the floor keeping your back pressed down flat. Slowly raise one leg to around ten inches then slowly (and I mean slowly) lower it to the floor. As you lower one leg slowly raise the other so for a short time both are in a crossing movement. Repeat the exercise for a complete set. using a slow, well-controlled speed throughout is essential and will increase the effectiveness of the exercise.
These are by no means the only exercises targeting these muscles, the transverse abdominals, but they should get you started. Stomach exercises such as this are important to any tummy-flattening plan and are especially effective for pregnant and women just after pregnancy.