Benefits of Strong Abdominal Muscles

Strong abdominal muscles do more for you than just giving you a trim profile. They help stabilize your torso, which reduces aches and pains in your lower back.

Don't despair if your belly is like jelly instead of a washboard. By following this three-part exercise routine faithfully three or four times a week, you can expect to see significant results in muscle strength in four to six weeks.

Your genetics, diet and overall activity level determine the amount of fat stored in the abdominal area. The best way to reduce abdominal fat is a combination of aerobic and strength training exercise plus eating only the amount of calories you need each day for your gender, age and activity level.

It's best to perform the exercises in order, doing as many repetitions as you can before moving on to the next exercise. Repeat the three-exercise sequence twice.

Once you get your tummy strengthened, you can back off on your routine somewhat. But to maintain your gains, you should perform the entire routine once or twice a week.

Exercise guidelines

  • Do the exercises on the floor.

  • Keep your legs bent and feet flat on the floor, with your heels 12 to 18 inches from your buttocks.

  • Don't anchor your feet down.

  • Do press your lower back down to the floor.

Hip curls

These are for your lower abdominal muscles. Lie on the floor with your fingers locked behind your head. Keep your head up and supported by your hands, with your chin on your chest. Keep your knees bent.

Contract your lower abdominals to slowly curl your hips off the ground about five inches, with your knees approaching your chest. Slowly lower your hips back down to the ground.

Crunches with a twist

These strengthen your obliques and lateral flexor muscles. Lie on your back with your ankles crossed and your knees bent and out to either side.

Contract your abdominals to lift your shoulders and back off the floor. Twist trunk, bringing left elbow to right knee.

Return to floor and repeat to opposite side.

Upper ab crunches

These are for your upper abdominals. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lock your hands behind your head.

While looking straight up, contract your abdominals to lift your shoulders and upper back off the floor. At the same time, press your lower back to the floor. Hold for two counts, then return to starting position. Do not pull on your neck, pushing your chin to your chest, as you raise your chest off the floor. Doing so could injure the vertebral column structures in your neck.

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