Contrary to popular belief, doing 300 crunches a day will not get you the washboard abs you so desire. A balanced diet along with a mixture of cardio, strength training and core work is the best way to get the flat stomach you're looking for. The problem with standard crunches is that they only target one area of your abdomen. Doing a variety of ab exercises that target both the upper and lower abdominal muscles is the best way to get a slimmer tummy.
Jack-knife situps are considered to be a double crunch. Instead of only bringing your chest up like during a traditional crunch, you are essentially bringing your entire body up into a V-shape. Begin lying flat on your back. In one fluid motion, lift your upper back off the floor with your legs. Bend your legs at the knees and bring them into your chest as you crunch up. Lower back down until you are flat on the floor and repeat. Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions.
Holding a plank position targets your entire core section, including upper ab, lower ab, oblique and back muscles. To perform a plank, begin by lying flat on your stomach. Place your forearms under you, with your elbows tucked in at your sides and under your shoulders. Lift your body up so it is being held up by your forearms and toes. Your body should form a straight line from head to toes. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute and slowly lower down. Try to do three planks, holding each one for longer than 30 seconds.
Lying Leg-Hip Raise
This movement targets your entire core by forcing you to engage the muscles throughout the movement. Begin by lying on your back on a weight bench, with your hands above your head and gripping the bench for support. Your legs should be straight and flat on the bench. Slowly bring your knees into your chest while raising your hips off the bench. Your knees should almost hit your chin when you bring them in and your hips and bottom should be off the bench. Slowly return to the starting position. Do not rock during this exercise. Use your abdominals to bring your legs in and down again. Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions.
Stability Ball Knee Tucks
Stability ball knee tucks require balance and upper-body strength to perform properly. Begin by lying on your stomach on a stability ball. Roll forward until your shins are on the ball and you are in a push up position. Slowly bring your knees into your chest, with your shins rolling on the ball. Straighten your legs back out to complete one repetition. These can be difficult at first, so start with one set of 10 repetitions and work your way up to three sets of 10.
Kaitlin Condon is a holistic health coach and certified physical fitness/wellness specialist. She is a contributing health writer for the teen magazine "Miabella," as well as several online publications.