Has that post-holiday paunch got you down? Did all of that eggnog and those candy canes make a bee-line for your your waistline? If so, then make getting rid of those extra rolls your New Year’s resolution for 2014. Yes, it will take dedication, and yes, it will hurt a little, but it will all be worth it when you can look in the mirror and see a stomach you can wash clothes on… or at least lay an egg on without having it roll right off.
Before You Get Started
As effective as the exercises are by themselves, there are a few things to remember before you start sweating off the pounds. First and foremost, don’t overdo it. You don’t want to injure or overextend yourself. Stretch out a little before you work out and take your time. Also, to accompany these exercises, its best to do some cardio if you don’t already. These exercises should be thought of as a complete lifestyle overhaul, and not just something you do a few times a week. You should take a brisk 20 minute walk everyday. This can be fun and doesn’t have to be seen as work. For example, if you live in an urban area, walk to and from lunch or get off the bus or subway one or two stops earlier and walk the rest of the way to school or work.
As part of the idea that this is a lifestyle change and not just a flash in the pan, you also must eat healthy for this new outlook on life to stick and be effective. Cut down on sugary foods and drinks and drink more water and eat more vegetables. This will help you not only feel better, but will make these stomach exercises work to their fullest extent.
Here We Go!
And now on to the fun part. These exercises start off for beginners then go on to more advanced workouts. Because these are quick and not very intense workouts, they can be done every day or every other day. Start at the beginning then continue on to the harder stuff. These well-rounded exercises work out the different abdominal muscles, because you don’t want to just work out the same ones. Remember to don’t overdo it and most of all, have fun!
Butterfly Crunch – Focus: abdominals
- Lie on your back with the soles of you feet together as close to your body as possible with your knees bent out to the sides.
- Place your hands behind your head with your elbows in line with your ears.
- Keeping your back flat on the floor and stomach muscles contracted, exhale and curl your chest up a few inches off the floor towards your legs.
- Lower your chest back to the ground and repeat 10 times.
Side to Side – Focus: obliques (sides).
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, with your arms at your sides.
- Exhale and contract your abs as you slide your right hand towards your right foot, with your head and neck remaining aligned and your lower back pressed to the floor.
- Return to the starting position then switch sides. Repeat 15 times.
Front Plank – Focus: transverse abdominals, your deep abdominal muscles.
- Starting on your hands and knees, keep your back and ab muscles contracted.
- Drop down to your forearms while extending your legs out behind you so you are resting on the balls of your feet, keeping your back straight, hips up and neck relaxed.
- Hold for 3 seconds then return to start. Repeat 10 times.
Scissors – Focus: obliques
- Lie on your back with your fingers resting behind your head.
- Keeping your abdominal muscles tight, raise your left knee and touch it to your right elbow.
- Return to start. Then raise your right knee and touch it to your left elbow.
- Alternate for 15 reps in a smooth continuous motion, keeping your abs engaged and your hands relaxes so as not to pull on your neck. Work up to 2 sets.
Fingers to Toes – Focus: Rectus abdominus (abs)
- Lie on your back with your legs straight and extended toward the ceiling, with your arms down by your side.
- Exhale and contract your abs as you crunch up from your waist and extend your hands toward you toes, with your back flat on the floor.
- Work up to 2 sets of 15 reps.
Tuck Crunches – Focus: Obliques and transverse abdominus
- Lie with your back flat on the floor with your hands crossed over your chest
- Lift your legs up into the air with your knees slightly bent and your feet pointed to the ceiling.
- Lift your shoulder blades 3-4 inches off the ground and perform a crunch while keeping your legs in the air and stable.
- Pause at the top for a moment then slowly return to the starting position. Work up to 3 sets of 20 reps.
Leg Swings – Focus: Obliques
- Lie on your back with your arms out to the sides and your legs and feet pointing up.
- Exhale and draw your navel into your spine while lowing your legs to the left side about 5 inches from the floor.
- Return to start and repeat on right side. Keep switching sides for a total of 15 reps. Work up to 3 sets.
Elbow Plank – Focus: core
- Get into a prone position on the floor, with your weight being supported by your toes and forearms, with your arms bent and directly below your shoulders.
- Keeping your body straight at all times, hold this position for 60 seconds.
- Work up to 3 sets.
Hopefully this daily workout routine can help you get started on the journey to a flatter stomach and a healthier lifestyle. It’ll be tough and you won’t see immediate results, but no one has ever said “Man, I wish I hadn’t worked out today.” Not only will you look and feel better, but you’ll be getting looks from that special someone (and maybe a few not-so-special someones). Remember, this is a lifestyle change and this is just the beginning, so good luck and stick with it!