Believe it or not, you don't have to spend a dime to get a tight, toned tummy. Forget about the many exercise gadgets out there that promise unrealistic, quick results with minimal effort. Save your money for a cute outfit and just do targeted exercises for 10 minutes on three non-consecutive days of the week. Paired with a sensible diet and regular cardio and strength training, you'll burn body fat, and before you know it, you'll be showing off a slim, toned tummy.
Basic crunches target the front of your stomach and are the foundation of many abdominal exercises. While lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor, place your fingertips on your head, behind your ears and point your elbow out. Pull your belly in to support your back and use your abdominals to slowly raise your head and shoulder blades off the floor. Exhale and pause one second before slowly lowering back down and inhaling. Do the exercise at your own pace and aim to complete three 90-second sets.
Bicycle crunches are one of most effective exercises for the obliques and the rectus abdominis, according to a study led by Peter Francis, Ph.D. at San Diego State University. The exercise is done while lying on your back with your hands supporting your head, and your legs about 45 degrees off the floor. As your head and shoulder blades come off the floor, bring your left knee toward your upper body. Twist your torso to the left and bring your right elbow and left knee toward each other. Exhale and pause one second before returning to the starting position and inhaling. Immediately switch sides and repeat the exercise with your opposite arm and leg. Do bicycle crunches for 90 seconds to complete one set. Aim to complete three sets and rest about 1 minute between each 90-second set.
The front plank is an exercise that really works your whole body, because in addition to engaging your abdominals, it also works your upper back, shoulders, legs and tush. If you're new to this exercise, do it on your knees, and as you get stronger, fully extend your legs. To do the plank, lie on your tummy and flex your feet, tucking your toes under. Prop yourself up on your elbows and hold yourself stiff as a board. Suck in your belly and keep your back straight -- don't sag to the floor. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat the exercise three times. As you get stronger, gradually extend the duration.
In addition to your abdominals, the side plank also works your tush and legs. Similar to the front plank, you can modify this exercise by bending your legs and forming a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. As you get stronger, straighten your knees to form a line from your shoulders to your feet. To do the side plank, lie on your left side and prop yourself up on your left elbow and on the side of your left foot. Your head, shoulders and hips should be aligned. Hold this for 30 seconds and switch sides. Repeat the side plank three times and extend the duration as your get stronger.
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.