The simple rule for losing excess fat -- no matter where it is on your body -- is to burn more calories than you consume. That means performing regular cardiovascular exercise. It’s only once your stomach muscles aren’t hidden under a layer of fat that strengthening exercises for the obliques and the transverse abdominal muscles will help give your waist a noticeable shape.
Fat is not easy to shift. Your body likes to save it up to keep you warm and to sustain you in case of food shortage. As a result, your body prefers to use glycogen -- which comes from carbohydrates -- for energy when you exercise. If you want to start burning fat, you have to exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes, advises the American Heart Association. Running is a better cardio activity than walking because it uses more of your muscles and requires them to work harder, which means you burn more calories.
Squats With Raised Arms
According to personal trainer Ian Graham on the ShapeFit website, any exercise that requires you to raise your arms above your head will work your abs. Stand up straight with your arms by your side and take note of how your stomach muscles feel; then raise your arms above your head and notice your abs naturally tighten. Now apply this to exercises like squats. Do them with raised arms so that your abs work a lot harder to maintain stability.
This exercise calls on your stomach muscles to hold your entire body weight in a fixed and stable position — and if you’re doing it correctly, it’s difficult. If you’re new to the plank, Graham suggests performing it with your knees on the floor. If you’re more advanced, kneel on all fours with your hands directly beneath your shoulders, then lift your knees off the floor. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders down to your toes. It’s important to keep your stomach muscles firmly engaged so that you don’t sink in the hips or stick your butt in the air. Try holding the position for 30 seconds. Once you can perform this version comfortably, try doing it with your elbows bent and your forearms resting on the floor.
This exercise targets your oblique muscles, which run down the sides of your torso. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You can tuck your toes under the base of a low-slung chair for added support if your need it, says ExRx.net. Place your hands behind your head and engage your stomach muscles to lift your shoulders and upper back off the floor. As you lift, twist your left elbow to your right knee, then lower and repeat, twisting to the other side.
Your tranverse abdominis muscles lie underneath your obliques and act like a corset, stabilizing your core and supporting your internal organs. To find them, place the base of each hand on the bony part of each hip, with your fingers angled inward and your thumbs meeting at your belly button. The area beneath your fingers is where these muscles are, says Sportsinjuryclinic.net. To tighten them, imagine you are trying to zip up a very tight pair of jeans. The contraction will be almost undetectable on the surface of your stomach -- hold it for a few deep breaths, then relax. Try to breathe into your ribcage, expanding it out to the sides, rather than inflating your chest or stomach.