Tag: core strength

Belly Bulge, Be Gone! 6 Top Exercise Tips to Tone Abdominal Muscles

Abdominal Muscles (2)


Belly bulge is a troubling problem for many people, making us self-conscious and uncomfortable in our clothing with form-fitting waistlines that can feel too-tight. Considering that abdominal fat can surround the internal organs, contributing to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer and heart disease, flattening the stomach is more than a vanity issue: it’s a valid health concern.

Fortunately there are many tips from fitness experts and exercises recommended to help tone the midsection. Below are 6 top things everyone can do to reduce belly fat and strengthen the abdominal muscles.


1. Get Your Heart Going—

The number one step shown to reduce extra pounds around the middle is regular, consistent cardiovascular exercise. Doing 30 to 60 minutes of cardio per day has been shown to cause weight loss, and that includes the tummy area. (Source: Harvard Medical School.)

Brisk walking counts as cardio, so shrinking your waistline could be as simple as working a 30 minute walk into your lunch break, or watching a television show while you treadmill every day after work.

Consistency is the key, so find your favorite type of cardio and stick with it to see results.


2. Carve Out a Spot—

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercises involving “abdominal hollowing” movements are especially helpful for building core muscles and strengthening the deeper stomach muscles.

This exercise (often called Cat-Cow Pose in yoga) is performed on the hands and knees, by inhaling with a relaxed belly. Next, the abdominal muscles are pulled in on an exhale while lifting the navel up as close to the spine as possible.

When this exercise is performed a minimum of 10 times daily (especially when combined with daily cardio), it will eventually tighten the midsection from within, slimming and toning the stomach area.


3. Become a Biker—

While riding the stationary bicycle is a great way to get cardio for weight loss, this particular bike exercise known for tightening the core muscles is done on the back, with the legs in the air.

When lying on your back, keep the arms behind the head to support neck muscles, and try to touch the each elbow to the opposite knee as you air pedal to increase the cellulite burning and abdominal toning properties of this classic exercise.


4. Mix It Up—

Fitness trainers recommend doing a variety of abdominal exercises to work the assorted muscles because only working one section can actually cause that muscle group to bulge out, creating the opposite of the smoothing effect you’re seeking.

So if you’re only doing crunches, for example, consider adding other variations like knee raises, side twists, plank and abdominal machine reps, or using the exercise ball to force different core sections to join in on the fun.


5. Lift Weights to Lose Weight—

If you have a belly bulge, you have weight on your body to lose—you already know this. And one of the best ways to increase weight loss results is to build muscle, because resting muscle burns more calories than resting fat, speeding up metabolism.

Consider adding some form of strength training such as weight machines or weightlifting to your weekly workout a few days a week. This extra muscle mass might be just the thing your body needs to burn off that belly fat for good.


6. Flutter to Fitness—

A popular core-strengthening exercise is the scissor-style exercise mat move referred to as doing “flutter kicks.”

Flutter kicks are done by lying on the back with arms at the sides, with the heels raised 6 inches off the ground. Engage the abdominal muscles and hold them tight while moving the legs up and down in the air. Be careful to keep the back and neck muscles relaxed, and focus on only using the stomach.

When done consistently, flutter kicks are another excellent belly fat buster because they strengthen abdominal muscles from the inside out.


In addition to adding extra exercise, don’t forget about the fat-fighting friend we have in water. Water assists with digestion and reduces bloating and constipation, both of which can contribute to a bigger-looking belly. Water also clears the body of toxins, and the cleaner our system, the faster we lose weight, so be sure to drink at least 8-10 glasses a day.

By using the fitness trainer tried-and-tested tips above, anyone can eliminate annoying tummy fat and build a flatter, firmer stomach. Get started today, and kiss that belly bulge bye-bye!

Building the Core to Get More: 7 Tips for Awesome Abdominal Training

Core Muscle Exercise


There’s a lot of talk in the world of fitness about building core strength because it’s been shown to enhance performance during other exercises, such as running and biking. Medical professionals and sports trainers also recommend building core strength to lessen chronic pain and prevent injuries.

Some mistakenly believe that core strength refers only to the stomach area, and limit their core exercises to sit-ups, crunches and other classic abdominal strength-builders. But the core actually includes the upper abdominals, side (oblique) muscles and a deep lower layer of midsection muscle called the transverse abdominus, as well as the muscles down the back, hips, glutes and thighs.

In short: if the muscles help to stabilize the spine, they’re core muscles, and if you can strengthen them, they might help you perform better athletically, improve your posture and reduce back pain.

Below are 7 tips for building abdominal and core muscles for maximum strength and agility.


1. Brace Yourself—

When performing any exercise to build the core, pulling your navel area inward as close to the spine as you can while still breathing comfortably is an excellent way to make sure you’re focusing on the correct muscle group.

By engaging the transverse abdominus, you’ll make sure this extremely powerful sheet of stomach muscle keeps the spine properly aligned and protected.


2. Stabilizing Force—

When traditional ab exercises like crunches and sit-ups are performed on an exercise ball, surrounding muscles are forced to work out along with the abs to keep the body stable. This can especially strengthen the sides of the body, creating a leaner line and stronger back.

Doing squats with an exercise ball between yourself and the wall, ball push-ups, and doing sit-ups on the ball are all examples of stability-based exercises.

A half of an exercise ball on a flat surface (called a BOSU), can be a great core builder when free weights are lifted while standing on it. If a trainer or friend can toss a medicine ball back and forth with you while you balance on a BOSU, this also works well.


3. Pilates, Please—

With slow, controlled movements that are all about maintaining stability, rather than reps, Pilates is an excellent core strengthener.

Remember to maintain proper form and hold Pilates poses as long as possible for maximum core benefits.


4. Plank You Very Much—

The plank is a popular core exercise because the body is aligned, the entire spine and surrounding muscles are engaged, and if you don’t want to collapse, the core muscles are all you have between you and the floor.

To plank, simply place elbows, lower arms and toes on the floor while holding the rest of the body up in a straight line for as long as you can, working up to a minute or longer eventually.

Side planks are the same exercise turned sideways, and really strengthen the oblique muscles. When doing any type of plank, remember to breathe and don’t overly tighten and strain the neck muscles.


5. Meet the Medicine Ball—

Incorporating medicine ball-lifting exercises into your workout can create core progress, especially those that make the body move from side to side, or stretch upward.

Because you’re balancing a heavy ball as you work out, you’re introducing the core-strengthening element of instability when the muscles have to work harder to hang on.

Throwing a ball at a wall and catching it on the bounce-back is also a fun way to achieve the abs of steel you’re seeking.


6. Get Glute-iful—

The glute muscles do more than provide us with a cushioned surface on which to sit; they also play a large role in core strength, making it just as important to work the lower body as the middle.

A popular core-building move for the gluteus and thigh muscles is the bridge exercise. This can be done by lying on the back with bent knees and raising the body up off the floor while contracting the glutes, being careful not to strain the lower back.

Go slowly and pull the navel into the spine to include the inner abs during a bridge exercise, holding each repetition for as long as you can.


7. Work the Weights—

While all of the weight machines don’t necessarily work the core muscles, strengthening all of the big muscles of the body can give you an edge by making it easier to build the core.

When the surrounding muscles are strong enough to support the rest of the body, it’s easier to work on the less-developed central muscles, and less likely to cause injury.


If you decide to focus on building your core, be sure to proceed slowly, as many of the exercises to build these particular muscles can injure those with weakness in the center of the body. Use the tips above with low weight until you learn the proper forms, and build up to the super strong core you’ve always wanted.