So much of current fashion is designed around flaunting a toned abdominal region. But thanks to factors such as genetics, water retention and age, a flat stomach may feel elusive. But all is not lost! Add in a few stomach exercises, either on the floor or on the stability ball, and you’ll be showcasing your amazing results in no time flat.
Lower Stomach Basics
Despite watching your diet and working out, it can feel like extra weight still parks itself right on your lower stomach. While your abdomen is composed of a complex set of muscles, your rectus abdominis is the key to getting a toned lower stomach. This muscle starts at your pubic crest and stretches vertically up to your lower fifth, sixth and seventh ribs. It's responsible for controlling the tilt of your pelvis and the curvature of your lower spine. Any time you flex your spine, or bring your ribs down toward your thighs, this muscle does most of the work.
When it comes to targeting your lower stomach with traditional abdominal exercises, go for a situp with your hands by your side, bent knees and non-fixed feet, according to “Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism” in 2008. To do this move, lie on the floor face up with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Don’t have anyone hold your feet or restrain them in any way. Extend your arms along your sides so your fingers are pointing toward your heels. Engage your core as you lift your shoulders 30 degrees off the floor. As you rise up, slide your hands down about 4 inches toward your feet. Return to the starting position and repeat.
To really see amazing results in your lower stomach, grab a stability ball. You can target your lower rectus abdominis better doing moves on a stability ball compared to the floor, according to a study published in the “Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies” in 2009. The most effective stability ball moves for your lower stomach are the roll-out and the pike, according to the “Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy” in 2010.
To do the roll-out, kneel on the floor facing a stability ball. Place your fists side by side on the top of the ball. Lean forward, hinging from your knees and roll your forearms over the top of the ball. You should have a slight bend to your elbows. Roll as far forward as possible. Throughout the move, maintain a flat back that creates a straight line from your chest down to your knees. Roll back to the starting position and repeat.
Unfortunately, spot reduction is impossible. Exercises can help you strengthen and tone particular areas of your body but they can’t fix everything on their own. Diet is also important. To help reduce abdominal fat, pay attention to your diet. Emphasize portion control and build a diet composed of complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and lean proteins.
- ExRx.net Rectus Abdominis
- Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism: The Effects Of Different Sit- And Curl-Up Positions On Activation Of Abdominal And Hip Flexor Musculature
- Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies: Muscle Activity Of The Upper And Lower Rectus Abdominis During Exercises Performed On and Off A Swiss Ball
- Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy: Core Muscle Activation During Swiss Ball and Traditional Abdominal Exercises
- ExRx.net: Stability Ball Rollout
- ExRx.net: Curl-up Protocols
- Harvard Medical School: Abdominal Fat and What To Do About It
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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