You've lost weight and now you want to tone your waist. Good for you. Carrying around excess fat in your belly increases the risk of many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. You don't have to perform hours of ab exercises to benefit. In fact, you might be surprised how little time it takes to develop your abs. The American Council on Exercise recommends working your abs five minutes each day, doing several ab exercises per session. You're likely to begin seeing the results in two or three weeks.
Crunch on the Exercise Ball
The American Council on Exercise calls the crunch on an exercise ball one of the best moves for toning your waist, because your thighs don't work as hard, allowing your abs to work harder. Your muscles work harder throughout the move, because the stability required to balance on the ball challenges your core to a greater degree. To do a crunch on an exercise ball, lie on your back on the ball so the ball is situated at about the middle of your back. Place your feet on the floor with your knees at a 90-degree angle and your hands behind your head. Engage your abs and raise your chest several inches, keeping your neck straight. Hold the position for three to five seconds, then lower your chest to complete one crunch.
Doing the captain's chair ab exercise activates the muscles all around your waist, making it an effective way to develop the entire area with one move. You'll work the front and sides of your core at the same time. The captain's chair is a piece of exercise equipment available at most gyms and sporting goods supply stores. To use the machine, stand with your back to the machine and grip the handles to stabilize your upper body. Press your lower back into the chair's padding while leaving your legs hanging. Slowly lift your knees toward your chest, then lower them back down. Make sure to keep your movements slow and controlled to get the maximum benefit.
Bicycling your legs activates your ab muscles and is easy to do. It ranks as one of the best ab exercises, according to the American Council on Exercise, because you get a two-for-one move: It engages the muscles on your stomach as well as those on your sides. You don't need any equipment or a large amount of space. To do the move, lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Raise your knees to a 45-degree angle and slowly bicycle them as if riding a traditional bike. As you bring your left knee up, touch it with your right elbow. Then straighted your left leg while you bring right knee up and touch it with you left elbow.
Vertical Leg Crunch
Yes, traditional crunches are good for abs, but the vertical leg crunch strengthens your core and obliques at the same time and gives you a variation for your routine that prevents boredom. To do a vertical leg crunch, lie on the floor with your hands behind your head and your legs elevated into the air. Keep your knees bent slightly and your lower back pressed to the ground. Lift your upper body several inches off the ground, leaning your torso toward your knees as you do.
- American Council on Exercise: New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises
- Bodybuilding.com: Anatomy Of The Abdominals
- American Council on Exercise: American Council on Exercise (ACE)-sponsored Study Reveals Best and Worst Abdominal Exercises
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Electromyographic Analysis of Abdominal Muscle Activity Using Portable Abdominal Exercise Devices and aTraditional Crunch
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.