You can achieve a smooth, flat tummy without a six pack. Situp repetitions performed incorrectly can cause a six-pack bulge. Focus your toning on a specific muscle called the transversus abdominis. Frederic Delavier, author of "Women's Strength Training Anatomy," states that the transversus abdominis muscle is the "deepest abdominal group." He also says, "Its circular and horizontal fibers reduce the diameter of the abdominal region when they contract." Herein lies the secret of a flat smooth tummy. Different styles of exercise accomplish transversus abdominis exercises with varied applications and terminology. Choose your favorite, or do them all.
Pilates Abdominal Compressions
Try the Pilates method to smoothly flatten your tummy. Lie on your back with your arms stretched over your head and inhale. Exhale and compress or scoop your belly button down toward your spine as if to flatten your back on the floor. Coordinate an exhale of breath with the tummy scoop down. Inhale and relax. Exhale and compress. You may not feel as if you are working hard but you are effectively working the correct muscle.
Arched Back Abdominal Compressions
Kneel on your hands and knees. Round your back slightly upward like a cat back. Keep your neck neutral as you inhale. Exhale and bring your belly button up toward your spine. Inhale and relax. Exhale and lift. Continue to coordinate your tummy compression with your exhaled breath. Your transversus abdominis muscle is pulling your abdomen in and shaping itself in. This is a slow but effective exercise.
Yoga Abdominal Compressions
Yoga offers this exercise in a slightly different position. Kneel on the ground sitting on your heels. Keep a tall spine and lengthened neck. Allow your arms to drape down your sides. Close your eyes and inhale. Exhale while drawing the belly button and rib cage inward. Remain relaxed yet tall through the spine. Repeat.
Techniques and Additional Benefits
Enhance your experience by including visualizations with your abdominal exercises. Expand your lungs and ribs outward like an accordion to draw oxygen deep into your lungs. Feel the ribs compressing in as you exhale. Use the in-the-nose/out-the-mouth technique. Notice the overall sense of well-being you achieve. Know that you will receive oxygen-rich blood, healthier cells and more energy from these abdominal compression/breathing exercises.
- "The Pilates Body"; Brooke Siler; 2000
- "Women's Strength Training Anatomy"; Frederic Delavier; 2003
- "Kundalini Yoga"; Shakta Kaur Khalsa; 2001
- "Studies in Exercise Science"; American Aerobic Association International/International Sports Medicine Association