The abs refer to the rectus abdominus muscles, which run along the front of stomach, and the obliques, which run along the sides of the waist. In addition to the superficial muscles, the abs also include the deep core muscles that stabilize your pelvic floor. According MayoClinic.com, strengthening your core muscles provides the benefits of better posture, balance and stability and decreased lower back pain. Core exercises are particularly important for postpartum women, but are effective for toning and strengthening the stomach muscles in all women. As a beginner, get your doctor's OK before your perform ab exercises, especially if you suffer from chronic lower back pain or digestive disorders.
Lie on your back on a yoga mat or other comfortable surface.
Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
Tuck your tailbone forward, slightly, and press your lower back into the floor.
Support the back of your neck by touching your fingertips lightly to the back of the skull, palms facing out. Open your elbows out to the sides.
Engage your abs by drawing your belly button in toward the back.
Lift your upper torso, shoulders and head off the floor.
Lower yourself back down to the floor.
Repeat this exercise for 12 to 15 repetitons, working your way up to three sets.
Supine Reverse Crunches
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent.
Extend your arms out on the floor at shoulder height, palms touching the ground.
Lift your feet off the floor and align your knees directly over your hips. Bend your knees to a 90-degree angle.
Lift your hips off the floor and curl your tailbone toward your head. Do not alter the bend in the knees.
Curl your tailbone as much as you can, as if you were about to touch your forehead with your knees, while still maintaining the 90-degree angle bend in the knees.
Lower your tailbone and hips back down to the floor.
Perform 12 to 15 repetitions, working your way up to three sets.
Position yourself on all fours with your wrists aligned directly under your shoulders.
Spread your fingers wide and press your palms into the floor.
Step back with one foot and then the other, balancing on your toes in a high pushup position.
Engage your core muscles and lift your hips to create a straight line with the back of your body. Do not let your hips sag toward the floor or raise toward the ceiling.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute, working your way up to three sets.
Sit comfortably, with a straight spine.
Place your palms on the floor beside you for support.
Bend your knees and lift your feet off the floor. Make a 90-degree angle with your knees, and keep your shins parallel to the floor.
Lean back slightly, shifting the weight more towards your tailbone.
Keep your hands on the floor for support or extend your arms along the sides of your legs, palms facing each other.
- To actually see your newly-toned muscles, you'll need to shed any layers of fat that lie between your skin and abdominal muscles. To shed fat, introduce at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio activity, for example, swimming, jogging or aerobic dancing, into your weekly exercise routine. Consult a doctor before beginning an exercise program.
Nicole Carlin is a registered yoga teacher. Her writing has been published in yoga and dance teacher training manuals for POP Fizz Academy. Carlin received a Masters of Arts in gender studies from Birkbeck University in London and a Bachelors of Arts in psychology from Temple University, Philadelphia.