I know how it is. Every day you get out of the shower, glance in the mirror and then quickly turn away. Ugh.
Gotta do something about that poochie gut. And then you get dressed and go to work, and immediately, other than having to feed it, your stomach is the last thing on your mind.
Who has time to do all those abdominal exercises anyway, right? Well, YOU do, for one! Even just 5 or 10 minutes a day devoted to toning your tummy is much better than ignoring it. So here are some suggestions for a variety of ab exercises, all of which can be done quickly and easily at some point during the day.
(One quick note. You can do sit-ups all day if you want, but your tight, rock-hard abs won't be visible if they're concealed under a thick layer of fat. So if you aren't already lean, you'll need to diet in addition to exercising in order to see the results.) Try to do three of the following exercises at least three days a week. Shoot for five or six days if you possibly can.
Each exercise targets a specific abdominal area -- upper abs, lower abs and obliques (the sides). If you have time to do more than one of these exercises, choose ones that target different areas. Remember to always exhale with the exertion and inhale as you relax.
Sit-ups -- The classic sit-up goes in and out of style as an effective abdominal exercise, but many professional trainers swear by it. It can be tough on your back, though, so it may not be for you if you have back problems. This exercise mainly works the upper abs. Lie on your back on a hard surface. With your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees at an angle a little tighter than 90 degrees. Put your hands behind your head. In a smooth, controlled manner, raise your upper body to a fully upright position.
You may need to have someone hold your feet, or place your feet under a heavy piece of furniture. Lower yourself to the floor, and, without resting, repeat the motion. Concentrate on using your stomach muscles to pull yourself up. Be careful to keep your head and neck relaxed. Shoot for three sets of ten repetitions.
If you're a rank beginner, and depending on your age, you may not be able to do more than one or two reps. That's alright. If you work out consistently, you'll gradually be able to increase your reps.
Crunches -- If back problems prohibit you from doing sit-ups, do these instead. Assume the same position as described above, but just pull you shoulders and upper body off the floor, then return to the resting position. As always, do these in a slow, controlled manner. And concentrate on pulling from the abs, making sure your neck and head are relaxed and NOT pulling
Standing Ab Pull -- Stand with your knees bent a little. Place your hands on your knees. Exhale completely. Suck your stomach in and hold it for five seconds while simultaneously raising your body until you're just about standing upright. Now relax your stomach muscles and take a deep breath. Exhale as you place your hands on your knees and bend them again. Do 10 if you can. This works both upper and lower abs.
Leg Raise -- Lie down on a flat, hard surface. Put your hands down flat at your sides and bend your knees slightly. With your feet together, raise your legs until your shins are more or less straight up and down. Without pausing, gradually lower your legs back to the starting position. Concentrate on working your lower ab muscles the whole time you do the exercise. Shoot for 10 reps.
Oblique Crunch -- Lie on your back on the floor and put your hands behind your head. Bend your knees.
Keeping your feet and legs together, allow them to drop to the left as far as possible, while keeping your back flat on the floor. Pull your shoulders and upper body up off the floor as high as you can manage -- perhaps a few inches. Again, DO NOT pull from the neck. Your head should be resting in your hands, completely relaxed. Slowly drop your shoulders back to the floor. Do ten reps (or as many as you can manage). Now turn your legs to rest on the right side and repeat. This exercise works your obliques, or side abdominal muscles.
Do as many of these exercises as you can. If you can do them all, you're getting a complete ab workout that you can probably do in less than 20 minutes!