Stomach Toning 101
Stomach toning is easier than you think
This article could also be called Stomach Toning for Dummies because of how easy this really is. With a few simple exercises you can easily tighten up your tummy.
Not only can you tone your stomach with just a few exercises but it will take you as little as fifteen minutes each time you workout your tummy.
The few different stomach toning exercises I am recommending today involve your core, upper and lower abdominals and obliques. This article is not about losing belly fat but strengthening and toning your core area so that the muscles in unison will tighten around your midsection and draw your stomach in.
If you include lowering your calorie intake on a daily basis your success will only increase.
Stomach fat will disappear and your core area will be stronger which in turn will give you more energy strength and motivation to succeed even further with your training and your new body.
To start off
First off let’s talk about your core. When someone mentions your core muscles they are basically talking about the area between the bottom of your rib cage to the tops of your legs.
Upper and lower abdominals, oblique’s, lower back. I can’t explain it much easier than that. Strengthening this area will help to prevent lower back pain and will also give you more strength throughout your whole body.
When strengthening this area you will also be tightening up the tummy section not to mention improving your posture.
I also feel that someone with a strong midsection has more self confidence because of how they are feeling and looking in the mirror.
Training your core – the Plank
The easiest and thankfully one of the best ways to train your core is by doing Planks.
Planks train your transverse abdominus which wrap around your entire midsection. There is a regular Plank and side Planks. Planks are also called Prone Holds but more commonly Plank is used.
This exercise will not only strengthen your core but also your back and shoulders and other stabilizer muscles.
The Plank is performed by lying on your stomach on the ground and getting up on your toes and forearms and holding your body in as straight a line as possible in a vertical position for as long as you can.
Key here is don’t lift your butt up to high and don’t let your body sag to the ground. Straight as an arrow is what you want. Look in a mirror if need be.
Time yourself and the next time you perform this exercise try to beat that time by even five seconds. I would start off trying to hold yourself in this position for 45 seconds.
Instructional video for the Plank exercise
Training your core - side Planks
Next is the side Plank which is the same idea as the Plank except now you will be on each side.
So let’s pick your right side. Assume the plank position, ok got it? Okay now I want you to turn you’re your body so that you are on your right forearm and the outer part of your right foot is against the floor with your left foot lying on top of it.
If you are finding that you can’t hold yourself up on the side of your foot then you can rest on the side of your right knee, just bend your lower leg up towards your butt.
Do it this way until you are strong enough to perform the exercise on the side of your foot. You can place your left hand on your left hip. Okay got it again? Ok that is it. You are now doing a side plank.
Hold it for 45 seconds if you can keep your body tight and try not to let your midsection sag to the ground. Look in a mirror if you have to too get the correct form.
When done on that side flip over and do the same thing on your left side. So now you have completed a plank and side planks. Let’s move on to upper and lower stomach.
Instructional video for the side Plank exercise
Training upper abdominals
Your upper abs are easy to train. I am sure you have heard the word crunches before when someone was referring to an abdominal exercise.
Okay let’s do it. Lay on your back. Lift your legs up together so that your thighs are vertical to the ground or you can bring your knees up and leave your feet on the ground, see what works for you.
Now you can either put your hands behind your head or beside your ears or lay them across your chest. I prefer hands up beside the ears. Now lift your head and shoulders off the ground and I want you to keep them off the ground.
Now lift your head and shoulders up towards your knees and hold at the top position for a second or two. Lie back down but do not let your head and shoulders touch the floor until you are done.
That is a crunch. Do as many as you can so that your abs start to burn. Remember that number and do 1 more the next time you do this exercise.
Instructional video for the Crunch exercise
Training lower abdominals
Your lower abs are next. Let’s get back into the crunch position. Ok now instead of lifting your head and shoulders toward your knees I want you to lift your butt and hips off the ground and bring them towards your upper body just slightly and then lift your hips straight up into the air.
Do this movement in a slow and controlled manor. Try to use your abs to lift your hips up. Do not swing your legs up. It isn’t a big movement so don’t think your toes need to touch the ceiling.
How high can you lift your butt off the ground? Ok that’s how much movement there is. Do as many repetitions as you can. Again, next time try to do one more rep than the last. If this movement is to hard you can try a hanging knee raise in its place.
I will explain that one in a different Hub Page.
Instructional video for the reverse Crunch exercise
Training your oblique’s and lower back
There are exercises that will train your lower back alone but I promised you a quick and easy stomach toning workout so I am going to give you a combination oblique and lower back movement which is called a Russian twist with a medicine ball.
Now you might not be able to perform this movement with a medicine ball and don’t worry about it. It is something you can work up too. Ok let’s get to it. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Now lean back slightly grab your medicine ball if you are using one. Make sure your chest is out in front of you and your back is as straight as possible. You can use a weight plate if you don’t have a medicine ball a five or ten pound plate will do.
The medicine ball should be on one side of you, let’s say your right side. Pick it up and in a fluid movement twist your torso to the left side so that the medicine ball has gone across your torso and then back to the right side and back and so forth.
One repetition is moving to one side and then to the other side. Do as many as you can and same as the rest, try to do one more rep the next time you workout.
When you decide to switch this exercise for another I would do a lower back specific exercise to replace this one and then possibly go back to this one after your done with you're lower back exercise for a few weeks.
Abdominal toning make it happen
Instructional video for oblique and lower back exercise - Russian medicine ball twist
Okay so that is it, you have trained your midsection pretty good. I would do these exercises as a circuit doing one after the other and once you go through all of them once take a sixty second break and then repeat your circuit.
After two circuits you are done. Increasing your repetitions should be sufficient instead of adding a circuit. Once you get more advanced you might have to take more than a minute break and that is ok if you need it.
There are different exercises you can do for these areas and I recommend switching them up every few weeks. Also you should work these areas a few times a week to start off giving a day or so in between workouts.
I hope I have helped and that you get your tummy toner. I mentioned at the start of this Hub that you could add trying to lose some stomach fat at the same time and that would really increase your over all look in no time.
Good luck and Happy Toning.
© 2010 Grant Handford