Building a nicely toned stomach requires attention to detail not only of your abdominal training but also of your aerobic exercise and your eating habits. If you have excess fat around your tummy, all the abdominal exercises you do will not reveal your stomach muscles. The abdominal exercises you perform should engage all the abdominal muscles -- upper and lower rectus abdominus, internal obliques, external obliques and transverse abdominus. Your abdominal muscles, like your other major muscles, must be progressively challenged to become more toned.
Hold a dumbbell over your chest as you do situps on a decline bench, toning your rectus abdominus; grip the dumbbell with both hands and keep your arms straight.
Clip two abdominal slings on a pull-up bar. Slide your arms through the slings, positioning them as close to your shoulder joints as possible. Hang from the slings and maintain 90 degrees at your shoulders. Contract your transverse abdominal muscles to stabilize your body by sucking your navel toward your spine. Focus on your lower abs to raise your legs straight in front of you until they are parallel to the floor. Slowly lower your legs and repeat.
Grasp one dumbbell in your right hand and then stand with your knees bent and your feet wider than your shoulders. Bend toward the right side, lowering the dumbbell just past your right knee. Contract the oblique muscles on the left side of your trunk to return to an upright position. Repeat for one set, then switch sides to work your obliques on the right side of your trunk.
Complete six sets of 10 repetitions per abdominal exercise, gradually increasing the weight of the dumbbell. Wear ankle straps when you do leg raises to increase the intensity, toning your stomach.
Complete two sprint sessions every week to burn plenty of calories and fat. Sprints strongly engage your oblique muscles to stabilize your trunk as your limbs pump forcefully during your sprint. Perform one sprint session on a Monday and the other workout on Thursday or Friday.
Sprint for 20 to 30 seconds on a treadmill, a flat, grassy field or a running track. Walk for two minutes at a slower speed on the treadmill or walk back to your starting point if training outside. Repeat intervals of sprinting and walking for a total of 25 minutes.
Perform a 60- to 90-minute cardio workout five or more days a week to burn the stored body fat around your tummy. It takes 20 to 30 minutes before your body even begins to use fat as the primary fuel for exercise.
Lower your carbohydrate intake to 35 percent to 40 percent of your total daily calories. A low-carb diet is more effective at changing your body composition compared with a low-fat diet.
Cut your caloric intake by 250 to 500 calories a day, enhancing your caloric burn in addition to the calories you lose while exercising, helping to reveal a toned stomach.
Eat five to six small meals a day -- eating every two to three hours -- to maintain your energy levels so you can exercise. Include unsaturated fats, lean protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates so you remain satisfied on fewer calories.
- Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise
- Strength and Conditioning Journal; High-Intensity Interval Training: Applications for General Fitness Training; Brad Schoenfeld, et al.
- Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research; The Effects of Treadmill Sprint Training; Ryan Ross et al.
- Strength and Conditioning Journal; Fat Burning; Bruce Craig, Ph.D.
- Strength and Conditioning Journal; Low-Carbohydrate Diets Promote a More Favorable Body Composition Than Low-Fat Diets; Jeff Volek, Ph.D., RD, et al.