Every woman seems to strive for the perfectly trim tummy. Many turn to diets that cut back on calories and, therefore, cut back on body fat. However, the secret to have a tiny tummy is really no secret at all. Along with a good diet, exercise not only burns off the dreaded "love handles," but it sculpts and tightens the muscles in your abdomen, leaving you with one flat, toned tummy. With the right circuit of exercises and some dedicated effort, you can lose the tummy fat for good.
The bicycle exercise tones your obliques. To start, lie down in a supine position-- facing up -- with your hands at the back of your head, as if you were doing a crunch. Bring your knees almost to the chest while lifting your shoulders from the floor. Turn to bring your right elbow towards your left knee, straightening your right leg as you do this. Switch sides, and then continue the pedaling motion. Do two to three sets with 12 to 16 repetitions each.
The Side Plank
The side plank is a more challenging take on the tradition plank. This exercise has you support your entire body weight on two points of contact. Lie on your left side with your elbow directly beneath your shoulder and your legs stacked. Place your right hand on your right hip. Engage your abs and lift your hips off the floor until you're balancing on your forearm and feet; your body will form a diagonal line. Hold the post for 30 to 45 seconds, and then lower your hips back to the ground. Alternate sides for a total of 20 repetitions.
The Lunge Twist
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The lunge twist targets all your core muscles, particularly your abdominals, obliques, buttocks and quadriceps. To begin, stand with your feet hip-width apart, your knees slightly bent and your elbows bent to a 90-degree angle next to your hips. Next, lunge forward with your left leg, rotating your torso and arms to the left as well. Rotate back to the center as you push off your left foot to return to your starting position. Alternate sides, doing a total of 15-20 repetitions.
The Wall Squat
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Dean Somerset, a certified personal trainer and exercise physiologist, called the squat "the best exercise you could ever do." Squats can be done virtually anywhere with a wall. To begin, stand with your back against a wall. Keeping your stare fixed in front of you, exhale and bend your knees to slide your back down the wall, moving your feet out in front of you. Move to a position close to that of sitting. Hold the position for five to 10seconds, making sure to breathe. Move slowly back to the start position. Do as many repetitions as your knees will allow.
No abdominal routine would be complete without a few sets of crunches. To do crunches properly, lie down in a supine position. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Cross your hands in front of your chest, keeping a fist's-worth of space between your chin and chest. Next, engage your abdominal muscles, and then sit up until your elbows or chest reach your knees. Be sure to use your abdominal muscles, not your back, leg or neck muscles. Do two to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions, stretching between sets.
Jennifer Kimrey earned her bachelor's degree in English writing and rhetoric from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. She's a regular contributor to the "Houston Chronicle" and her work has appeared on Opposing Views Cultures, The Austin American-Statesman, The Red Vault, The Western Vault and various other websites and publications.