While a smooth, flat stomach looks good, it is less of an accomplishment if the the stomach muscles have not gained any strength. In addition to slimming down around the outer abdominals, it is also important to build strength in the core abdominals.
Below are some stomach exercises that work out the core to build strong muscles throughout the abdomen.
As with any workout routine, be sure to consult a professional before beginning and always warm up properly to avoid injury.
Tone Your Torso
Begin this stomach exercise on all fours, knees and hands on the floor. Keep your stomach pulled in and extend your left arm out in front of you (football fans, imagine a referee signaling first down). Keep this arm outstretched as you extend your right leg out behind you. Switch arms and legs, and repeat for an entire set. Take particular care not to let your pelvis sway out of position.
You will need to lie on your back for this exercise. Use a mat or towel to cushion your spine. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor, and position your arms at your sides. Squeeze your buttocks as you lift your pelvis off the floor. Keep the rest of your body in line. Raise your pelvis to about forty-five degrees, so your upper body from your head to your knees makes a straight, flat ramp. Hold this for three to five seconds before slowly lowering your pelvis back to the floor. Repeat for an entire set.
This stomach exercise is fairly simple in theory but can be fairly difficult to perform. Essentially, it involves trying to pull the belly button in towards the spine. This can be tricky, as it involves using muscles which you may not be used to activating. To start, either lie or on your stomach or kneel. You might want to try both ways and see which helps you feel the exercise better. Relax your body as much as possible, then try to use only the lower abdominals to move your belly button toward your spine. Hold for ten seconds. If this feels easy, hold for a longer period. The goal is to hold the contraction until you either cannot feel it, or you feel other muscles working harder than the transverse abdominus. When you feel this, let the contraction out.
This stomach exercise also requires lying on the floor. Position your hands under your butt, keeping your back pressed against the floor. Slowly raise one leg to a height of about ten inches, then slowly lower it back to the floor. As your lower one leg, raise the other. Repeat this motion for an entire set. Maintaining control throughout is important, not allowing momentum to get the better of you. Your upper body should remain on the floor through the entire move.
These are just a few of all the strength building stomach exercises out there. If you are looking to build strength in your midsection, look for any exercise that works your core, especially the transverse abdominal muscles.
Many components of Pilates are good for this also, which I will be posting about soon.