Face it, most women want that tight, toned, sexy stomach. And you can't get it without working those muscles. Training your abs is good for the stomach, but it won't make you lose weight. It will, however, help strengthen the core muscles, provide more stability for your spine and help you look great in a swimsuit.
Your abs are resistant to fatigue. This means you can train them with daily sessions, unlike most other muscles of your body. However, if you haven't been working your abs, start with just three sessions a week on nonconsecutive days. As your stomach gets stronger, add a workout every one or two weeks. Choose at least five to eight exercises and do up to 20 reps per exercise for one to three sets.
Use Different Motions
Most people think of a crunching, or spinal flexion, motion to work their stomach. But to work your midsection optimally you should use different motions. Spinal flexion will work the rectus abdominis, which runs down the front of your torso. But you should also incorporate rotation and stabilization exercises. Your stomach is a big component of spinal stabilization, and even exhalation. So exhale as you contract your abs and focus on proper form.
The Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University studied various popular abdominal exercises, and listed them most effective to least effective. Choose from the top of the lists in order to work your stomach muscles. A sample workout could include the following: Captain's chair, exercise ball crunch, bicycle maneuver, reverse crunch, long lever crunch and a plank. You can move quickly from one to the next in an ab circuit and really challenge those muscles.
Change the exercises you perform every four to six weeks to keep your abs challenged, and avoid a fitness plateau. Activities such as Pilates and yoga are good for your stomach and burn calories, but will not make you lose a lot of weight on their own. Keep in mind that if you have fat on your stomach, ab training is not going to get rid of it. Cardio and a healthy, balanced diet without overeating is essential. Consistency is also key, so don't skip your training.
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.