Many women long for toned tummy muscles but either lack the time or money to hit the gym on a regular basis. The solution is to perform ab exercises at home that don’t require equipment or fancy gadgets. Use your own body weight to work the major muscles that comprise your abs -- the obliques, rectus abdominus and transversus. In addition to performing ab exercises on a regular basis, engage in daily aerobic exercises, like brisk walking, and follow a healthy eating plan to maximize your chances of trimming your mid-section.
Bicycle Crunch Exercise
The bicycle crunch exercise is one of the best exercises for all of the abdominal muscles. According to research published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, this exercise ranks high among abdominal strength training exercises because it stimulates more muscles than many other exercises per electromyographic (EMG) measurements. To perform this exercise, lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Place your hands gently beside (slightly behind) your head for support. Bring your knees to a 45-degree angle and slowly go through a bicycle pedal motion. Touch your right elbow to your left knee, then your left elbow to your right knee. Do not pull on your neck. Breathe evenly throughout the exercise. Do as many as you can with proper form. Repeat.
Also known as the Prone Iso-Ab, this is a stabilization exercise. Stabilization exercises involve little motion but improve functional capacity and enhance muscular endurance. This exercise strengthens all abdominal musculature. Lie prone (face down) on the floor with your feet together and forearms on the ground. Draw in your abdominal muscles and activate your gluteal muscles (buttocks). Lift your entire body off the ground until it forms a straight line from head to toe, resting only on forearms and toes. Hold for 10 seconds to start. Increase time of hold as you get stronger. Slowly return body to the ground, keeping chin tucked in and back flat. Repeat. Complete three sets.
Vertical Leg Crunch
The vertical leg crunch is an effective exercise for training the rectus abdominis as well as the external and internal obliques. To perform this exercise, lie on your back and extend your legs up (perpendicular to your torso) with the knees slightly bent. Place your hands gently behind your head for support. Contract your abdominal muscles and rise up until your shoulder blades leave the floor. Do not pull on your neck, and keep your chin elevated. Keep your legs in a fixed position and slowly lift your torso toward your knees. Lower and repeat for 12 to 16 repetitions. Do two to three sets of this exercise.
Alternating Leg Walks/Drops
This exercise is beneficial for the rectus and transverse abdominis muscle. Assume the same position as for the vertical leg crunch. Again, contract your abdominal muscles and raise your torso up until your shoulder blades leave the floor. Do not pull on your neck. Keep your legs in a fixed position and slowly lower one leg until it is almost touching the floor; keep the other leg static. Return and repeat with the opposite leg. Repeat with alternating legs until you have completed 12 repetitions. Do two to three sets of this exercise.
- Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics; Electromyographic studies in abdominal exercises: a literature synthesis; M. Monfort-Pañego, F.J. Vera-García, D. Sánchez-Zuriaga and M.A. Sarti-Martínez; Mar - Apr 2009
- NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training; M Clark and S Lucett; 2008
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; Effects of sit-up training versus core stabilization exercises on sit-up performance; J.D. Childs, D.S. Teyhen, T.M. Benedict, et. al.; Nov 2009
- Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies; The myth of core stability; E.Lederman; Jan 2010