Exercises For A Summer Six Pack

Dear Sugar
I am a teenage girl who loves her body...well, most of it. I love my arms, I love my legs--but I don't love my stomach. I'm very self-conscious about it, and I was wondering if you know of any exercises I could do to maybe flatten out my abs?

I wouldn't say I eat unhealthily, but I'm not on a diet or anything. Do simple crunches work? - Or are there some fancy at-home exercises I can do?

I don't want a 6-pack stomach, but with summer just arriving, I'd like it to be more flat and toned--I'd like a stomach I can wear a bikini in, and that doesn't make me hate my midsection. Ab-less Addy

Dear Ab-less Addy
There are currently over 200 abdominal exercises for your 3 major stomach muscles groups; your upper abdominals, lower abdominals and obliques.

Working your obliques is what's going to create that pretty, hourglass shape you are looking for, and working your abdominals is going to build toward a 6 pack. Try these 3 exercises targeted at each of the muscles groups. I've also recommended 3 more on a recent post titled "How To Lose Your Muffin Top".

Upper Abdominals: The Basic Crunch:

  • Lie down flat on your back with your hands behind your head, elbows bent and open to the ceiling.
  • With your legs bent at the knees and your feet firmly placed on the floor - sink the small of your back into the floor and raise your upper body upwards, so that your shoulders leave the floor.
  • Repeat 25 Times. Do 4 reps, build to 8 reps.

Lower Abdominals: Lying Leg Raises

  • Lie on your back with your hands, palms facing down under your buttocks.
  • Raise your legs about 12 inches off of the floor and hold. Now, trying to use just your lower abdominals, raise your legs by another 6 inches. Do this by tilting your pelvis instead of lifting your legs. Be sure that your knees are slightly bent.
  • Repeat 25 times. Do 4 reps, build to 8 reps.

Obliques: The Twisted Crunch

  • Lie on your back as though you were in sit-up position. Bend your knees slightly and twist the lower half of your body so that your knees are together resting on the floor.
  • Lifting your back off the floor about 6 - 8 inches, lift both your legs and your upper body simultaneously. Your upper body should feel like it's "crunching" toward your waist to try and reach your ankles. Rest.
  • Repeat 12 times. Do 3 reps, build to 6 reps. (If your neck hurts, hold it with your hands, with your elbows bent. Keep your arms open, not crunched at the ears).

Here is a list of the different Techniques for Sit Ups. Try and increase the amount of reps that you perform each week by 2, until you can comfortably perform 10 reps of each exercise.

The best way to strengthen your abdominal muscles is to vary both the exercises you perform, and watch what you are eating. When your goal is muscle definition, eat more protein and less fat than usual.

Remember to stretch after you've completed your work out. Exercise slowly and breathe - concentrating on maximizing each rep. Really feel as the burn spreads through your stomach like wildfire.

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