Let's face it, lying down on the gym floor to do sit-ups, crunches and leg raises isn't always comfortable, especially if you've got an audience that includes someone tall, dark and handsome. Not to worry, because not all abdominal-strengthening exercises are done on the floor. You can stay in an upright position and still get a good tummy workout. Besides, variety can add some spice to your workout routine and keep your abdominal muscles challenged.
Warm-up your midsection with exercises, such as torso twists and side bends. To do the torso twist, stand in a shoulder-width stance and swing your arms to your left side while twisting your torso in the same direction. Then, swing and twist to your right side. Imagine swinging a baseball bat back and forth. To do side bends, reach with your right hand slowly down the side of your right leg until you feel a stretch along the left side of your waistline. Repeat this on your left side. Do both exercises 15 times on each side.
Perform standing side crunches to target your obliques at the sides of your waistline. While in a shoulder-width stance, place your fingertips on your head behind your ears and point your elbows out. Then, lift your right knee to the side, bend it 90 degrees and tighten your tummy muscles to help stabilize your body. Bend your upper body sideways to your right and simultaneously raise your right knee to bring it closer to your right elbow. Repeat this crunch 15 times before switching sides.
Incorporate the wood chop exercise in your abdominal workout. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and then step forward with your left foot to take on a split stance. Hold a lightweight medicine ball or dumbbell in both hands. Tighten your abdominals, and then extend your arms and reach up to the left side of your body, above shoulder height. Lower the ball or weights slowly across your body toward the side of your right hip. Move only your arms and keep your body still. Imagine the movement you make when chopping wood. Repeat this 15 times before switching sides.
Use the captain's chair apparatus to work your abs. Position yourself in the machine with your forearms on the arm pads, your hands on the handles and your back against the backrest. Tighten your abdominals, bend your knees and slowly raise them up toward your chest before returning them to the beginning position. Do this 15 times. Keep your legs straight for a greater challenge, or to work your obliques, add a twist and bring both knees up toward one shoulder and then the other.
Suck in your tummy whenever you have a minute throughout the day to engage your transverse abdominis, which sits like a corset around your waist. Stand or sit upright, inhale deeply and then slowly exhale all the air from your lungs as you pull your tummy in as tight as you can. Breathe as normal while maintaining the contraction in your tummy for at least 15 seconds.
Round and arch your back to stretch the muscles you've worked. Lean forward and rest your palms on your knees. Look down at the floor and slowly round your back as much as you can. Really exaggerate the stretch and breathe normally. Then, slowly reverse the motion, look up at the ceiling, push your tush back and arch your back as much as you can. Do this sequence at least five times.
- The Complete Guide to Core Stability; Matt Lawrence
- Fitness: Beat Belly Bulge: Beginner: Standing Side Crunch
- American Council on Exercise: Standing Wood Chop
- Core Strength; Paul Collins
- A Flat Stomach ASAP; Ellington Darden
- The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding; Arnold Schwarzenegger
- American Council on Exercise: Ask An Ace Expert: Should I Train My Abdominals Every Day? Also, What Ab Exercises are Best?
- Unless specified differently, exhale as you contract your abdominal muscles during the exercises and inhale as you release the tension.
- Work your tummy muscles on non-consecutive days so they have plenty of time to recover.
- Consult a doctor before starting a new workout routine, especially if you've been inactive or have an injury or health condition.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.