While finding an activity that you enjoy and do on a regular basis, such as walking, running or biking is great, it’s also recommended to target the specific area of the belly to tone the muscles and give the area a better definition and shape. And here come several simple belly exercises that you can easily do at home.
The abdomen (which is less formally called belly, stomach, or tummy) is the part of the body between the chest and the pelvis. The abdominal muscles assist in the breathing process, provide flexibility and movement, protect the inner organs and are a key element for supporting the spine and they also provide postural support together with the back muscles.
In the front of the abdomen, there is a major muscle called the rectus abdominis, also known as the “abs” and “lower abdominals”, it is a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the human abdomen.
The obliques are the muscles on the side of the upper body that assist in turning the body from side to side. This is the area of the body which is also called “love handles”. It is important to properly work your obliques as toning them can help create a nice looking waist and better movement.
When we do the basic sit-ups and crunches (see exercise 1), we only do up and down movement so we work on the “6 pack” area, but when we crunch and twist (exercise 2), we work the oblique muscles as the twisting movement is the one that work your obliques.
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Crunches / Sit ups
This exercise is beneficial for your upper abdomen. Lay on the floor and hold your hands by your ears rather than behind your head to prevent a neck strain. Bend your knees with your feet on the floor. Then lift your shoulders and upper back up and away from the floor with your face pointing toward the ceiling. Exhale as you come up as far as you can, hold for a second, then inhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat 15-25 times.
Crunch and twist
This exercise works the obliques (also known as love handles). Start with the same position as the above exercise (crunches), but this time raise yourself up slowly then twist your body from the waist (not back and shoulders). Try to touch your left knee with your right elbow, untwist and go to starting position. The next time do the opposite side and try to touch your right knee with your left elbow. Repeat on each side 10-15 times.
Pike and Extend
Lie on the floor with your legs extended over your hips (see the left image). Then crunch up so your hands reach towards your feet. Then bring your arms back overhead while at the same time you lower your left leg towards the floor. Then crunch up again while your hands reach both your toes, but this time when you bring your arms back overhead, lower your right leg towards the floor. Repeat 20 times alternating sides.