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What are effective exercises to tone stomach muscles?

JC Pinzon
Fitness

Pilates exercises are great for core strengthening. Teasers and single leg stretches combine the flexibility and core strengthening needed to tone up, but remember these muscles will not show if your body fat percentages are high. A combination of Pilates and a low body fat will show results and possibly a six pack depending on your genetics. Sit ups, obliques are just tools to achieve your goal and half the battle. Your calorie intake has to be low in order to show the tonicity in the muscles. Even if they don't show you will notice the increases in strength and flexibility.

Employing the Drawing-in maneuver throughout the day and in your fitness program is highly effective in strengthening and toning your stomach muscles. The Drawing-in maneuver also improves your posture and helps protect the low back.

Toning muscles of the abdomen is about a combination of diet and exercise to remove body fat covering the abdominal area. To improve the muscular tone of the abdomen the NASM recommends starting by strengthening from the inside and working towards the outside. Start with spinal stabilization exercises like planks and hold for sets of five seconds. When you can hold for 10 sets of five seconds with good form, move on to spinal flexion exercises like the abdominal crunch, and work up to sets of 15-20 repetitions. Once you have developed muscular endurance and strength in the abdomen move on to power exercise like medicine ball scoop throws. These should be done for 3-5 sets of 10 repetitions to maximize effectiveness. If you combine this exercise strategy with a sensible diet plan you will improve the tone and appearance of your abdominal muscles. 

Any exercises that emphasize the use of your core will help tone the stomach. Your core is made up of your abdominal muscles, obliques, and low back muscles. Performing variations of planks and static crunches on the floor and on swissballs is a good place to start. Another great way to tone the stomach muscles is to perform trunk rotation exercises such as a low to high wood-chop on cable machines.

Personally, my favorite core exercises are ones performed on TRX suspension straps. The TRX are an awesome tool for body weight exercises. They are especially beneficial for increasing core strength and tone because almost every exercise performed on them requires the ab muscles to be engaged. For more information on TRX or to purchase them go to the following link and search for TRX Suspension Trainer: http://www.myhfpn.com/store/splash.action?id=1835

Lastly, make sure you are focusing on your nutrition. The stomach is the easiest place to put on body fat and the most difficult place to lose it. Making sure your nutrition is dialed in will help to expose your stomach definition after all your hard work!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.