Exercise and fitness expert Lisa Raleigh gives us her top tips on getting the flat, tones stomach you’ve always wanted:
Flattening your stomach means working from the inside out. In addition to cleaning up what you eat, your focus must be on your Transverse Abdominus – your deepest core muscle. This muscle compresses the abdominal wall, acts like a corset, draws the belly button closer to the spine and is the body’s most important core stabilizer.
Note: Traditional crunches and ab exercises have their place, but they only target your six-pack muscles – not the all-important Transverse Abdominus that lies under them! Your six-pack muscles easily overpower the weaker internal muscles, which can actually cause your abdominal wall to bulge out if your form isn’t perfect – not the effect you’re looking for.
Here are four moves to strengthen your core from the inside out and help you sculpt a flat and toned tummy.
The Modified Hundred
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground and arms at your sides. Take a deep breath and pull your stomach muscles in towards your spine. As you exhale, gently lift your head and neck off the floor, reaching your arms straight forward towards your legs. Pause for a few seconds then take another deep breath and gently lower yourself back to the ground. Aim for 3 sets of 6-12 reps, depending on your fitness levels.
The Flat-Belly Fly
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet pointing forward. With one hand on the ground and the other pressed against your stomach, slowly open legs as far as you can. Work to keep your stomach pulled in towards your spine. Hold for a moment, then slowly draw your legs together again. Aim for 3 sets of 6-12 reps, depending on your fitness levels.
Plank with Leg Lift
Drop down to your forearms, rise onto your toes and keep your head in line with your spine. Slowly lift one leg up into the air, hold for a moment then lower it back down to the ground. Aim for 3 sets of 6-12 reps, alternating legs as you go.
Lie on your side with your upper body propped on one arm, and your leg on the same side bent to 90 degrees. Keeping your arm strong, slowly lift your torso up into the air. Hold for a moment then lower yourself back down to the ground. Aim for 3 sets of 6-12 reps, performing an equal number of reps on either side.
*Make this move more challenging by straightening both legs and lifting your whole body off the ground.
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