If you want a flat and toned belly, you do not need to use expensive exercise equipment or join a gym. Abdominal exercisers are no more effective at toning the abs than at home floor exercises, according to a 2004 study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise. Keep in mind that abdominal exercises do not spot-burn fat. Although ab workouts build muscle in the area, you need to follow a low-calorie diet and make time for daily cardio exercise for a flat belly.
Use Planks to Tone the Transverse Abdominis
When doing planks you work the transverse abdominal muscles. The transverse abdominal muscles are located between the ribs and pelvic bones. Planks are appropriate for beginners and only require an exercise mat to complete. Start out on your hands and knees. Put your legs behind you, so that you are resting on the balls of your feet. Drop down onto your forearms. Your entire body should be in alignment; hold the pose for at least three seconds while contracting your abs. Release and repeat for a minimum of 10 reps. As you get stronger, increase the amount of time you hold each repetition and decrease the amount of reps.
Leg Swings for the Obliques
This advanced move is recommended by “Fitness” magazine to work the obliques. Start by lying flat on your back with your toes pointed to the sky. Contract your abs you move your legs to one side of your body while pushing your spine into the floor. Your legs should hover approximately 5 inches off the ground. Switch sides and aim for at least 15 reps for each side.
Build Definition With the Bicycle Maneuver
This was rated one of the most effective abdominal exercises in the 2004 study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise. For this move, you’ll also only need an exercise mat. Push your back into the ground with your hands behind your head to start. Bring your knees up and have them rest at a 45-degree angle. Alternate pushing each foot out as though you are pedaling a bicycle. Bring your left elbow to your right knee and your right elbow to your left knee as you complete the move. Repeat 15 to 20 times on each side.