Obtaining a toned stomach is considered the Holy Grail of fitness for many women. Whether you wish to flatten your belly after having a baby, or simply want to fit into a new dress, creating a well-toned stomach will allow you to look and feel better. While abdominal-specific exercises are essential for stomach toning, you must also focus on cardiovascular training to achieve your goal of a well-toned stomach.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Engage in high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, at least one to two times per week. Achieving the ever-coveted flat belly may take time, but the American Council on Exercise says HIIT effectively eliminates subcutaneous fat, which is the fat you can grab with your fingers, as well as abdominal fat. HIIT may be performed on a treadmill, elliptical, bicycle (indoor or outdoor) or through jogging.
Warm up your body for five minutes. Aim to achieve an intensity level of three or four out of 10. HIIT is measured by intensity levels, with one being no exertion and 10 being the highest possible exertion.
Engage in a 60-second burst with an intensity rating of seven to nine out of 10. Follow this bout of high-energy movement with 120 seconds of a reduced intensity level of five to six out of 10 on the intensity scale.
Repeat this cycle of 60-second bursts of energy followed by 120 seconds of reduced intensity for eight cycles. Keep the intensity level at seven to nine during high-energy intervals and five to six during recovery intervals.
Conclude the exercise by performing a five-minute cool-down with an intensity level of three to four.
Perform abdominal training exercises three to five days per week, according to information provided by the University of New Mexico.
Focus on hitting all areas of your abdominals by incorporating a minimum of five to 10 different exercises within each training session. The American Council on Exercise performed a study to help identify the most effective abdominal exercises. At the conclusion of the study, ACE researchers found the following three exercises effectively fatigue the rectus abdominis, which is the entire front region of your abs: supine bicycle crunches, Captain’s chair, also known as the vertical leg-hip raise, and exercise ball crunches. The same study found the supine bicycle crunches, Captain’s chair and reverse crunches were the best at fatiguing oblique muscles.
Perform eight repetitions of each exercise to effectively exhaust the abdominals. As you become stronger, increase the number of repetitions to a maximum of 30.
- Perform HIIT for six weeks before taking a break and performing non-HIIT activity for three to six weeks. This helps prevent injury from performing such high-intensity workouts on a regular basis.
- If you’re recovering from an injury or illness, speak with your doctor before beginning any cardiovascular or abdominal training program.
Jonathan McLelland has been a professional writer since 2005. He has worked as a story writer and editor for the international sitcom, “Completing Kaden,” as well as a proposal writer for various production companies. McLelland studied communication and theater at St. Louis Community College.