Toning your abdomen*
(In this section, the term toning is used to denote strength training)

"Can I flatten my stomach and get rid of this flab by exercising?" This is usually the first question individuals want answered  The answer is 'you can't spot reduce any part of your body, so you won't lose fat from your abdominal area by doing abdominal exercises. As well as exercising you will need to reduce your overall body fat by getting regular aerobic exercise and establishing healthy eating habits.

Unfortunate, despite diligent exercise and dieting, your age, body type or genetics, may result in you never achieving the abdominals of your dreams. Saying that, you can significantly improve the appearance and strength of your abdomen/central body. Added strength will help to form a natural protective girdle to support your internal organs, improve your posture and protect your lower back from injury . Also see What is Toning and Toning Your Body.

To tone your abdomen and centre of your body
Three times each week, perform:-
    - two sets of the abdomen exercises detailed below, plus
    - one or two sets of the upper body exercises and
    - one or tow sets of the lower body exercises.
 

Abdomen / Central Exercise programme

1. Crunches

Abdominal crunches will tone the abdominal muscles. 

Fitness levels:-
    Moderate  - 25 reps
    High - 40 reps

Lay on your back and lift your legs into the air, keeping the knees slightly bent. Place both your hands at the side of your head near your ears.  Inhale and tighten your abdominal muscles. As you exhale, raise your shoulders and chest, making sure that you keep your neck relaxed and your eyes focussed upwards. Lower yourself until you are once aging laying flat on the floor.  Repeat.

2. Ball Pike

 

 Ball Pike exercises will elongate
 your  chest muscles and develop
 central strength. 
 
 Fitness levels:-
    Moderate  - 15 reps
    High - 25 reps

 

For this exercise, you need to adopt the press up position by laying your hands flat on the floor and placing your shins on the stability ball. (see photo).  Ensuring that your arms and legs are straight, tighten your abdominal muscles and push your bottom upwards, allowing your legs to roll across the ball,  until your feet rest on the ball and your hips are at a 90 degree angle.   Return to the start position and repeat.

3 Oblique crossovers

These exercise will remove love handles.

Fitness levels:-
    Moderate  - 30 reps
    High - 50 reps

Lay down on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your legs bent at the knees; your hands should be resting at the side of your head.  Tighten your stomach and slowly raise up, directing your shoulder and elbow to the opposite outer thigh. Repeat, using the other side of your body.

4. Hyperextension

These exercise will strengthen the lower back.

Fitness levels:-
    Moderate  - 25 reps
    High - 40 reps

Laying face down, place both your hands in the centre of our back.  Ensuring that your feet remain on the floor, steadily raise your chest of the floor, remembering not to clench your buttocks. Pause,  then slowly lower your chest to the floor.

5. Pivot Crunch

These exercise will strengthen your stomach.

Fitness levels:-
    Moderate  - 25 reps
    High - 40 reps

Sit down on a bench and place your hands next to each thigh, then move your hands forward and grasp the edge of the bench  to hold yourself in position.  Lean back, lifting  both your feet at the same time. When you are balanced (on your bottom), bring both knees up to your chest and pause, before steadily returning to the starting position.

6 Oblique Ball Crunch

Fitness levels:-
    Moderate  - 15 reps
    High - 25 reps
 
Sit on the stability ball and slowly lay backwards, facing upwards. With your feet planted firmly on the ground, clench your stomach muscles and slowly raise up, directing your shoulder and elbow to the opposite side of your body.  Steadily return to the starting position before repeating the exercise using the other side of your body.
 

*Always consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional before embarking on any exercise programme.