Calling it a muffin top doesn't make it cute. Most women want to eat a muffin, not wear it around the waistband of their pants. A balanced abdominal workout will help you tone and tighten the muscles of your midsection as part of a well-rounded exercise routine. To be balanced include all of the actions of your torso, and change up your workouts every two to three weeks. Choose one or two exercises for each motion, and perform one to three sets of up to 20 repetitions.
Flexion is forward bending of the spine, and your rectus abdominis and obliques perform this action. A basic crunch is a good way to begin your balanced abdominal workout if you are a beginner. Simply lie on your back on a mat with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor with your arms behind your head. Keep your elbows out to the sides and chin lifted the whole time. Tighten your abs and lift your head and shoulders off of the floor in a slow, controlled manner as you exhale. Lift as high as you can before lowering back down for one complete repetition. Another example of flexion is a stability ball crunch.
Rotation targets your obliques more in your balanced abdominal workout. But rotation doesn't have to be a large motion. Instead keep it small and controlled so you don't over-rotate your spine. Perform a basic crossover crunch to start. Lie on your back on the floor with your right ankle over your left knee, left foot flat on the floor. Place your left hand behind your head and your right on the floor beside you. Exhale and lift your head and shoulders up and over toward your right knee. Think of bringing the left side of your ribcage toward your right hip. Release down for one rep. Perform all reps on this side before switching. Another rotation exercise is a bicycle crunch.
Side bending, or lateral bending, will literally hit the sides of your body. Some people choose to skip this motion because they don't want to add size to their waistline. Most women, though, don't add muscle that easily. Hold a light dumbbell in your left hand. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and right hand behind your head. Lean to your left as you inhale until you feel a slight stretch across your right side. Exhale and pull yourself back up to standing position. Complete all reps on one side before switching. You can also perform a side-bending motion over a stability ball.
Stabilization exercises will work your entire core, including muscles in your lower back. Instead of repetitions, you hold stabilization exercises for up to 60 seconds. Start with a plank, or pushup position, and hold it for at least 10 seconds. Add time slowly until you can hold a plank for 60 seconds. You can also perform side planks or even put your elbows on a stability ball to increase the challenge.
Bethany Kochan began writing professionally in 2010. She has worked in fitness as a group instructor, personal trainer and fitness specialist since 1998. Kochan graduated in 2000 from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, Medical Exercise Specialist and certified YogaFit instructor.