Four Simple Exercises for a Flat Stomach
by Kathy Smith
I’ve never been a big follower of celebrity gossip, but I did notice an interesting trend in the not-so-distant past: Gwen Stefani makes headlines rocking Rockefeller Center, flaunting her signature six pack abs. Rihanna is spotted at the Heathrow airport in a midriff exposing her flat stomach. Suddenly there’s less chatter about the butts of Jennifer Lopez and the Kardashians, and a lot more focus on midsections. And you don’t have to be a pop music diva to jump on this bandwagon. No matter your age or shape, there’s no doubt about it: Abs are back!
We’d all like to tighten and tone our abs. Training with efficient abdominal exercises, however, can be a tricky matter. I like to think of it as a geography lesson. Learning about the different areas of your abdominals – and more importantly, how they all work together – is the key to a firm, flat stomach.
So let’s map out those sexy new abs, and the abdominal exercises (all of which you can find on my Tummy Trimmers DVD) that get you there:
Reckoning with the rectus
The Rectus Abdominis is the scientific name for the muscles that run from the rib-cage to the hips. It’s what gets you those six pack abs. And here’s the great news about six packs: We’ve all got them! It’s just a matter of strengthening them – and then burning off the layer of fat that’s covering them up (but more on that later). Working the rectus is where the classic crunch comes into play – or any movement, for that matter, that brings the shoulders closer to the hips.
Leaving those love handles behind
The obliques are your twisting muscles – the ones that run diagonally from the side of your ribs, to the front of your pelvis. They help on the path to a flat stomach by hemming you in, creating a waistline. Left to their own devices, however, the obliques can turn into – you guessed it – love handles. Abdominal exercises that involve rotating the midsection are great for toning the obliques – like rowing crunch.
Training the transverse
The Transverse Abdominus is the fancy title for the layer or sheath running across your midsection. Anytime you “suck in” to squeeze into a tight pair of jeans, you’re engaging that transverse – so this is the area with the power to make you look instantly thinner. But more importantly, it’s also a stabilizer, so it improves your posture and helps prevent back injury. The forearm plank is an excellent way to work those belly-flattening transverse muscles.
And don’t forget the man behind the curtain
When picking abdominal exercises, it’s common to overlook the back end. The Spinal Erector (or “Erector Spinae”) refers to the group of muscles connecting the lower and upper spine. When you make the conscious decision to sit up straight (which, hopefully, you just did), those are your spinal erector muscles at work.
It’s that simple. Great abs come from strengthening all the muscle groups of your core. The only other step between you and a flat stomach, is cutting through any excess belly fat. Check out my Tummy Trimmers DVD to help get rid of belly fat with fat-blasting tips and cardio moves.
Thanks for reading,