A well-balanced, reduced-calorie diet and a regular exercise routine can lead to weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week, which is a safe weight-loss rate, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While you're losing weight, targeted exercises can strengthen your abdominals so that when your excess body fat decreases, you'll have a tight and toned stomach. For optimal results and injury prevention, learn proper exercise form.
Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent 90 degrees directly above your hips. Bend your elbows out and place the tips of your fingers behind your ears at the sides of your head for support.
Tighten your abdominals and push your lower back toward the floor. Imagine trying to eliminate the space between your back and the floor.
Raise your head and shoulder blades off the floor using your abdominals, and twist your upper body to your left. Simultaneously, extend your right leg so it's about 45 degrees above the floor and bring your left knee in toward your right elbow. Imagine trying to bring your left knee and right elbow as close as you can toward each other. Avoid pulling on your head, and keep your elbows pointing out so your arms are away from your face.
Twist your upper body to your right side, and bring your right knee toward the opposite elbow while you extend your left knee so that leg is about 45 degrees above the floor. Continue this alternating pattern so that your leg motion mimics the movement you make when riding a bike. Work your way up to two or three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
Captain's Chair Knee Raises
Position yourself in the captain's chair apparatus so your lower back is pressed against the back pad and your elbows are bent 90 degrees, with your forearms on the arm pads and your hands holding the grips.
Contract your abdominals, raise your knees as you slowly bring them up until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause one second in this position. Face forward so your back stays straight and focus on having your abdominals create the motion.
Lower your legs and straighten your legs to return to the starting position. Immediately begin the next repetition. Aim to complete two or three sets of eight to 12 repetitions..
Stability Ball Crunches
Sit on a stability ball and slowly walk your feet forward until the ball is in the curve of your back. Place your feet about shoulder-width apart and cross your arms over your chest. For an extra challenge, move your feet closer together and place your fingertips on your head behind your ears.
Contract your abdominals and slowly raise your torso about 45 degrees. Look at the ceiling or the top of the wall in front of you so your chin stays off your chest. Hold the contraction in your abdominals for one second.
Lower your torso to the starting point. Control the motion: Avoid just dropping your body down. Focus on activating your abdominals and letting them do all the work. Do two or three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Aim for a Healthy Weight
- Truestar Health: Spot Reduction - Myth or Truth?
- American Council on Exercise: New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- The Complete Guide to Abdominal Training; Christopher M. Norris