How should I exercise my stomach muscles?

To exercise your stomach muscles (abdominals), you want to start out slow. Choose exercises that have very little motion of the spine like planks or bridges. Once you achieve better strength and endurance you can progress to exercises that include flexion, extension, and rotation of the spine like crunches and cable rotations.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

To strengthen the muscles of your abdomen or stomach you can do oblique crunchs.

Primary muscles worked: Internal and external obliques (sides and front of the abdomen)

Starting position: Lie on your back with your right knee bent and right foot flat on the floor. Cross your left leg over your right, with your left ankle resting just above your right knee. Place both hands behind your head, with elbows out to the side.

Action: As you exhale, left your head and both shoulders off the floor and twist so that your right armpit moves in a line toward your left knee. Contract the abdominals as fully as you comfortably can. Hold for one count at the top of the contraction and exhale the remaining air. Inhale as you return toward the starting position. Do not allow your abdominals to relax between repetitions. Continue the set until you have completed your repetitions. Then repeat on the opposite side.


  • Do not allow your elbow to cave in toward your knee.
  • Keep your elbows back.
  • Keep your head in line with your spine.
  • For a more advanced exercise, cross your legs more fully, so that one knee rests on the other.
  • For a less advanced exercise, allow one elbow to remain in contact with the floor.

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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.