Fat cells are stored throughout the body, with some areas being more prone to holding fat cells than others, according to the textbook “Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance.” The abdomen is one of these areas, and while exercise promotes overall fat loss, belly fat can be harder to shed. Individuals can exercise the abdomen in the gym or at home without equipment.
Supine Reverse Crunches
Supine reverse crunches target the lower abdominals, which are often the toughest to strengthen. Begin by lying on the back with the knees bent and feet planted flat on the ground. Placing the hands under the tailbone, lift the legs straight up off the ground until the hips are a few inches in the air. Engaging the abs, lower the hips and legs slowly. “The stronger the abs get, the straighter you’ll be able to keep your legs,” said Shelby Young, a certified personal trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine. “Reverse supine crunches are a great move to strengthen the deeper muscles of the core. They should definitely be done to balance out a good ab-routine.”
Bicycle crunches are one of the most effective abdominal exercises and also one of the simplest to perform. They target the three abdominal muscle groups: the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis and obliques.
Begin by lying on the floor with the knees bent at a 90-degree angle and the lower legs in the air with shins parallel to the ground. Extend the right leg while bringing the right elbow to meet the left knee, lifting and rotating the chest off the ground. Return the right leg to bent, extend the left leg, and bring the left elbow to twist the torso towards the right knee.
“Bicycle crunches are absolutely one of the best abdominal moves you can do if you’re looking for something simple that really blasts every muscle in the abs,” said Young. “Bicycle crunches can be done anywhere, anytime, making them so beneficial for the results they give.”
Standing Pike Kick
Standing pike kicks target the upper and lower abdominals as well as various muscles in the back. Begin by standing with the feet at hip-width distance and the arms extended straight above the shoulders. Tighten the abdominals, and kick the right leg straight up, and lower the right arm until the hand and foot meet in front of the chest. Each standing pike kick should be a quick and explosive move to ensure the abdominals are controlling the movement rather than relying on gravity and momentum.
“Standing ab-work is very good to give the core more of a stability challenge,” said Young. “Since your center of gravity is higher than that during floor ab work, your core works harder to keep you balanced the spine straight.”
- "Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance"; William D. McArdle, Frank I. Katch, Victor L. Katch; 2006
- Shelby Young, ACSM certified Athletic Performance Specialist; Hampshire Hills Sports and Fitness Club;, Milford, NH; Performance Specialist; Hampshire