If you think that getting a toned, tight tummy is easy, you're in for a surprise. A toned midsection requires that you frequently work all of your abdominal muscles including the upper and lower portions of the rectus abdominus, the obliques and the transverse abdominus. Doing the best abdominal exercises with proper form can put you a step ahead of the game and trigger fast results.
The bicycle maneuver is one of the best abdominal exercises around, according to a study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise. This exercise works the entire abdominal unit, from the obliques at the sides of your waistline to the rectus abdominus at the front of your tummy. Lie on your back with your legs straight in the air at a 45-degree angle to the floor to do the bicycle maneuver. Raise your shoulders off the floor with your neck supported by your hands. Alternatively twist to bring the elbow of one arm toward the opposite knee and bend that leg toward your chest. Extend each leg straight when you twist away from it.
This version of the side crunch is not the same exercise as the lying side crunch. This exercise has you kneel sideways on the floor, but it still targets the obliques. To begin, kneel and place your right hand on the floor with the arm straight as you lean to the right. Extend the left leg straight to the side and place the left hand behind the head, elbow bent. This is the starting position. Next, lift the left leg up toward the ceiling and reach your left arm straight as you bend your spine to the left as if reaching for your toes. This works the left oblique. Return to start. Repeat on the other side.
The one-legged buttock squeeze works the abdominal muscles through stabilization, engaging the deeper ab muscles to hold the stomach in and support the pelvis. You mustn't allow the lower back to arch or that will keep the abs from activating. To begin the one-legged buttock squeeze, lie on your back with your knees bent. Cross the right leg onto the left knee and relax your arms on the floor. Next, squeeze your abs and left glute as you raise your buttocks toward the ceiling. Lower back to the floor. Repeat with the legs crossed on the other side.
If you want fast results you need to work hard and do consistent workouts. Perform six to eight repetitions when you first start out. Work up to 15 reps and two to three sets. Rest one to two days between workouts to allow your muscles to recover but no longer or your muscles can atrophy.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.