If you want to shed actual inches off your waist, you have to do exercises that help your body to burn fat for energy. Low-intensity exercises performed for long periods of time, such as running, swimming or cycling, will switch your body into a fat-burning machine. But spot-reducing is a myth because cardiovascular exercises will burn the fat all over your body and do not directly target your waist. Exercises with a toning ball can strengthen and tighten your abdominal muscles, making your waist appear smaller. Do exercises that target the internal and external obliques, or the muscles that shape your midsection.
The oblique twist will trim and shrink the sides of your waist. Sit on the ball with the knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Slowly step your feet forward, sliding your trunk down the ball until the ball rests under your lower back. Begin this exercise in the traditional crunch position, leaning back so your upper back also drapes over the ball. Tuck your buttocks in and raise your hips up. Rest the palm of your left hand on your lower abdomen. Cradle your head with your right hand, elbow out to the side. On an exhalation, lift and twist your trunk. Draw your right shoulder to your left knee. Keep your tailbone tucked in throughout the exercise. Inhale and return to starting position. Perform 12 reps for one set of twists. Switch sides and repeat.
By lifting one leg, you increase the instability of the ball and force your obliques to work even harder to maintain balance. Assume the same starting position and repetition regimen as the standard oblique twist. When you crunch up, raise your left knee toward your right shoulder. Lower your left leg back to the ground upon releasing the crunch. Switch sides to work the muscles in your waist evenly.
Lie sideways on the ball. Rest the middle of your waist over the center of the ball. Fully extend your legs, keeping them together. Anchor your feet to the baseboard of a wall, which will help to stabilize your position. Cradle your head with both hands behind your ears, elbows pointing out. Lift your shoulder, crunching laterally toward your hip. Avoid any twisting or rotation of your trunk on the crunch. Hold the peak position for a moment and feel the contraction in your oblique muscles. Release the crunch and return to starting position. Perform a dozen reps, switch sides and repeat.
Curl and Squeeze the Ball
In this exercise you’re adding a leg contraction to an oblique twist, which works the muscles buried deep in the pelvic floor. Lie supine, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Position the ball between your knees, drawing it slightly forward for stability. Clasp your hands behind your head, elbows out to the side. Press your tailbone to the ground. Contract your abdominals while keeping your hips still throughout the exercise. On an exhalation, curl your upper torso and draw your chin to your chest. Hold this position and inhale. On the second exhalation, rotate your left rib cage across your body and simultaneously squeeze the ball with your legs. Inhale and come back to the center position with chin to chest. On the third exhalation, rotate your right rib cage across the body and again squeeze the ball with your legs. Repeat the rotation-and-squeeze movement with a return to center eight times for both sides.
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Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.