The search for a perfect appearance is a historical struggle for most women.
While it is relatively easy to get a blow dry and applying makeup in the morning, having a slim figure takes work and commitment. Indeed, it is not easy to maintain a healthy figure throughout the stresses and strains of adult life.
One of the most common areas women have trouble with is the abdomen. Fats tend to go to this area and refuse to go, even with proper nutrition. And with pregnancy and childbirth, belly fat becomes a real problem for many women.
Abdominal fat storage increases during pregnancy and shedding the fat that had accumulated during this time is not easy. Since the abdominal muscles of women are not as tensile as those of men, they bulge around the pelvic section.
While some women recover naturally, others take time, and this puts immense strain on their lower backbone.
While many women resort to slimming medication and expensive surgeries hoping for a slim body, health experts always recommend exercising and proper nutrition to achieve natural toning of the muscles. Furthermore, exercise helps the body recover naturally while also having many other health benefits.
Best Abdominal Exercises
Though you can isolate one muscle from the other during workouts, four muscles form the core part of the abdominal area. These are the external, internal abdominal obliques, transversus and the rectus abdominus muscles.
Different women bodies respond diversely to the same workouts. So be patient with your body as it adapts to the changes. Here are 18 samples of the best abdominal exercises that will tone all the four muscles.
1. Plank Crawl Out
Stand straight with your legs slightly apart. After that, bend down and place your palms flat on the ground without bending your knees. Then, crawl to the push-up posture, then back to the bending and the standing position.
This workout is an excellent warm-up exercise that builds resistance by using both the hands and the legs. Try to do repetitive sets of three. If it is hard for you, you can start with your knees on the ground until you build enough strength.
2. Side Plank
Lie on your side with either your left or right elbow directly on the ground supporting your shoulder. With your legs stacked on each other, lift your hip to let only your elbow and foot help the body. Hold your position and count up to 30 seconds. Repeat the set four times on one side, then switch to the other side and repeat.
This work out helps straighten the back and tone the side muscles of the abdomen. With a properly aligned back, you will feel less pain doing other exercises during the workout. If possible, try dipping down your hip section 5 times after the count of 30 seconds.
3. Reverse Crunch
Sit in an upright position with your legs together and knees at 90 degrees. Stretch out your hands with your palms held together, parallel to your knees. Push your belly inward as you exhale.
Once your stomach is close to the spine, curve the lower back inward for your stomach to form a C-shape. Hold for a few seconds, inhale, and go back to the starting posture. You can repeat the routine and gradually increase the frequency as your body gets used to it.
4. Alligator Drag
Get a slightly slippery or sliding floor. Get into a push-up position. Use your hands to pull yourself without raising them from the floor, while the body remains in the horizontal plank position.
Perform this for a considerable distance after you master the technique. Take 30 seconds to one-minute rest in between the sets. This workout puts pressure on the lower part of the abdomen, thus toning the muscles.
5. Abdominal Hold
To perform this exercise, sit upright on a chair with your knees bending at 90 degrees. Place your hands firmly on the edges of the seat. Raise yourself from the chair gently until the feet are not on the ground, and your behind is not on the chair.
Hold yourself in suspension for about 10 seconds or longer. Gradually lower yourself back to the starting position on the chair, then repeat the movement again. This exercise tones your arms, and all the abdominal muscles for a leaner and stronger body.
6. Side Crunch
Kneel on the floor and lean on the left side, with only your left hand and knee supporting you.
Place your right hand at the back of your head, with the elbow pointing upwards, then slowly raise your right leg and stretch it outward.
Stretch your hand outward parallel to your leg.
Hold your position for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. This simple exercise works on the side muscles that store a more significant portion of the abdominal fat in some people.
7. Prone Plank
Go down into a push-up position, and align your back straight as you would while doing a simple plank. With your abdomen curving inside, hold your position for about 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat the set five times.
As easy as this work out seems, doing it requires a high degree of endurance. The exercise works on abdominal muscles, aligning the spine and increasing the upper arms stamina. You can start with this then graduate to the alligator drag.
8. Squat Thrust With Twist
Start by standing flat on the ground with your feet slightly apart. Hold your palms together and push your arms out in shoulder height. Then gently bend your knees to 90 degrees.
In the squatting position, turn your shoulders to the left without swinging your knees and return. Do it on the other side as well, then return to the starting posture. Repeat the exercise in sets of five to ten on each side of the body.
9. Single Leg Stretch
Lie flat on your back and raise your shoulders and feet slightly from the ground.
Starting with your left leg, bend your knee towards your chin and hold the knee with your hands. Stay in this position for around 10 to 20 seconds, and then recline back.
Repeat the movement 5 to 10 times before switching to the other leg. After completing every set, allow yourself a rest of 20 to 30 seconds.
The middle and lower section of the abdomen will start becoming more toned as you gradually increase the counts and sets performed.
10. Cobra Position
First, lie down flat on your stomach. Raise your upper body to 45 degrees from the ground with the elbows bending backward.
Hold your breath and position for 5 seconds, then lower yourself back to the starting position.
Repeat this movement for up to ten times or more if possible.
Make sure not to overdo it, though. During this exercise, you will not only work on your middle abdominal muscles but also your lower back as well.
11. Assisted Reverse Sit Ups
Lie on the ground with your arms providing support. Turn to one side so that most of the weight lies on one hip. With your feet raised from the ground, bend your knees towards the chest as you would do during sit-ups.
As you bend your knees, make sure you bring your chest as close as possible to meet them. Recline your back and start again. Repeat this movement for about 10 to 15 counts for each side.
Remember, your feet and head should not touch the ground as you recline. The goal is to exert pressure on all the abdominal muscles as much as possible.
12. Bent Leg V Ups
Lie flat on your workout mat with your knees bending towards the chest and the arms towards your face. Simultaneously, stretch your legs upwards and your hands towards your toes and back. Make sure you lift your upper body as if trying to touch your toes.
Recline back to the starting position and start again. You can repeat this workout for up to 10 times or more according to your liking. Keep in mind not to overexert yourself and take proper rest when needed.
13. Alternating Toe Reach
Lie on your back on your exercise mat. Lift your left leg straight up and stretch your right hand across your body, trying to catch your toes. It is useful if you can actually reach out far enough to touch your toes, but do not worry if you cannot; you will be able to see progress as you workout consistently.
Repeat the movement is another set, using the right leg and left hand this time. Do the exercise in alternating sets for up to ten counts or more per side. During this workout, bend and raise your upper body to avoid straining your back.
14. Leg Raise And Reach Clap
Start this work out lying down flat on your back. Raise your legs straight up without bending your knees. As you lift the legs, raise your torso and clap behind your legs.
This workout burns fat in both the upper and lower parts of the abdomen. Similarly, it works on the hip muscles and the lower back region. Start slowly and increase the sets and the count as time goes by.
15. Lying Windshield Wipers
Lie down on your back with your arms supporting your raised upper body. Keep your feet together and gently lift them with your toes stretched. Now, swing your legs as if you are wiping the windscreen of the car with the feet, reaching to one side and then the other without touching the ground.
For a good workout, raise your legs to the center. Then lower them to one side, but the feet should not touch the floor. Raise them again to the center and drop them to the other side.
This exercise uses all the muscles in the upper and lower abdomen. Repeat the routine for ten or more counts.
16. Side To Side Crunch
While lying with your back flat on the ground, bend your knees upward with your feet flat on the mat. Assume the sit-up posture by lifting your torso from the ground. Gently stretch your right hand sideways and touch your right foot.
Turn to the left and do the same; use the left hand to touch your left foot. Repeat the set in a maximum of 15 counts for better results. You can start with a few counts, and slowly increase the count if you want to.
Though similar to the prone plank, this workout puts more pressure on the abdomen and the back. Go on the ground with your hands and feet like the horse stance. Bend your hands so that your elbows touch the ground.
With the elbows supporting your upper body, stretch back your feet and straighten your back. Assume the position of trying to do a push up on your elbows. Now, hold the posture with your head aligning with your spine for 30 seconds or more.
Take a break and then repeat the same movement at least three to four times. This workout activates the abdominal muscles in addition to the upper and lower back muscles.
18. Bicycle Crunch
Lie comfortably flat on your back. Raise your hands and hold them firmly behind your head. Then raise your legs at least 45 degrees from the ground. Bend your left leg inwards and try touching it with your right elbow.
Switch to the right leg and do the same trying to reach it with the left elbow. As you alternate the legs, you will end up cycling an imaginary bicycle while exercising your body. This routine is fun and extremely beneficial.
The road to a perfectly flat abdomen for women is treacherous. While some women achieve their desired results soon enough, others will have to work for a little longer in order to achieve their target.
Remember, what works well for someone else won’t necessarily work for you, so go at a pace that is comfortable for you, and that enables you to stay consistent without burning out. Keep in mind that patience is the key to reaching your ultimate goal. The fat didn’t accumulate in your abdominal region in a day. It took a considerable time to build up, and it will take time to go away. No matter how uncomfortable you are now while starting your work out journey, consistency will help you reap the benefits of improved appearance and better health.
Consult Your Doctor
It is good to seek a medical practitioner’s advice before you embark on any strenuous exercise program. Listen to your doctor’s advice and recommendation carefully and incorporate the suggestions into your work out regimen and your lifestyle in order to achieve the body structure you want.
In addition to asking for medical advice, find out what kind of nutrition plan, you need to follow in order to achieve your goal. Generally, most nutritionists will advise a lot of fruits, vegetables, and water, but consuming a professional will give you more insight and help you follow a nutrition plan that is tailored to your unique needs.
Exercise for women can be fun, or it can be a burden, depending on how you approach the entire process. Keep your expectations realistic and take your journey towards a flat stomach one day at a time. You will have to go through the pain and sometimes frustrations, so focus on progress on your way in order to stay motivated.