Getting older doesn't mean you have to deal with fat gain and sagging skin. Targeted strength-training exercises for the abdominal muscles will help you build stronger, larger muscles, slimming and tightening your body as a result. Regular cardio is also important for keeping your body fat percentage low, but it's the resistance exercises you need to keep as your main focus.
Crunches are one of the most effective exercises for helping slim your stomach. Lie flat, face-up on a weight bench. Bend your knees, keep your feet flat, and rest your hands behind your head. Engage your core, then raise your upper torso up off the bench, without lifting your lower back at all. You should feel a light tension in your rectus abdominis muscles at front. Lower yourself back down for one rep. Increase the resistance by doing your crunches on a stability ball, back flat on top of the ball, legs bent on a 90-degree with your feet flat.
Thrust and Twist
An effective exercise to target your ab muscles is the squat thrust with twist. With a shoulder-width stance, extend your arms straight out in front of you so they're parallel to the floor, and squat down until your legs are bent on a 90-degree angle. Slowly rotate your body to the left before turning back so you're facing forward, then stand up straight. Repeat, this time turning to the right, for one rep.
Sit-Up to Sculpt
Similar to the crunch, the main difference with the sit-up is in how far you raise your torso during the execution of the exercise. Although the sit-up may also be considered a more basic exercise, it too is one of the best if you're trying to shape your waist. This exercise targets the rectus abdominis muscles at front of your abdomen, as well as the obliques at the sides. Lie flat on your back, knees bent and feet flat, your arms crossed over your chest so your hands are resting on your shoulders. Engage your core, then raise your torso up as close to your knees as possible before lowering back down. Repeat.
Bend to Slim
To target the sides of your stomach -- the oblique muscles -- where excess fat often accumulates, the dumbbell side bend is an excellent exercise to include in your workout. Stand straight, feet about shoulder-width apart, your back straight and arms extended down straight at your sides. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing in. Slowly bend your torso over to the left, continuing until you feel a light stretch on your right side. Move back to a straight position, then bend over to the side again, this time toward the right. Return to your starting position to complete one rep.
The Great Weight Debate
If slimming down is your goal, stick to a higher number of reps and lower weight. Completing two to three sets of 12 to 15 reps is an ideal workout plan, as opposed to three to four sets of five to six reps with a heavier weight. Use a weight you can manage without straining, but which still creates enough resistance that you find it difficult to complete the last few reps.
Don't Forget Your Cardio
Regular cardio exercise is important to slim your stomach, or your ab muscles will stay covered up by layers of fat. Aim to include at least three 30-minute sessions of cardio a week. Running, cycling and rowing are all effective examples; any activity you enjoy that gets your heart rate going and improves your cardiovascular system will help you burn calories and body fat. For a more low-impact cardio exercise, try swimming or brisk walking and pump your arms at your sides while walking, for an effective full-body cardio workout.
- American Council on Exercise: Is it True That Metabolism Decreases with Age?
- Muscle & Fitness: Arnold Schwarzenegger's Six-Pack Routine
- Fitness: Our Top 10 Abs Exercises
- ExRx.net: Sit-Up (arms crossed)
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Side Bend
- Shape: The Best Cardio for Your Abs
- American Council on Exercise: Stability Ball Sit-Ups/Crunches