Tighten Up That Tummy

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The Flat Belly Workout

It seems that the eight-minute ab routine and a set of simple crunches doesn’t cut it these day. Everyone wants a six pack.   NBC Fitness Coaches tackle the waistline crisis with core moves that help trim the fat off the midsection.   Following is a set of how-to quick tips on crunching, and a guide to the best core toners.

Andrea Metcalf, author Naked Fitness

Pilate’s moves focus on alignment and all the muscles that support the spine.  Targeting a flat belly? Try these core toners:

Waistline Reaches - Starting in a sitting position with knees bent and feet lifted off the floor, lift through the rib cage and reach to the back corner on the left then back to center, then right side.  Repeat this move for 20-30 repetitions.  Core muscles are “slow twitch” which means they respond better to endurance movements than power.  (Power tip: extend the feet toward the ceiling to challenge the body on this move.)

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Cable Diagonal Pulls – To pull off these gym moves start standing with cable overhead and to the side, as well as arms extended throughout the pull.  Pull the cable across and down on an angle.  Perform 15-20 reps then repeat on the other side.  This move should also be done across the body with cable at shoulder height and lastly from the ground up towards the ceiling across the body.  Heaviest weight should be used while cable is high and slowly decrease the tension as you move the cable closer to the ground utilizing gravity’s resistance.

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Sergio Rojas, Trainer-reDEFINED Fitness


Most people spend too much time doing crunches in an effort to flatten their abs.  There are 2 major reasons that these are not very effective, and leave most people frustrated by lack of results, or with a bit of low back pain.  First and foremost, crunches isolate only 1 abdominal muscle, so they miss many of the other core muscles.  Isolation exercises also do not require much energy, so you won’t burn much fat. 

Secondly, when we are upright, whether sitting or standing, we get our spine to flex and round forward for free, with the help of gravity.  Flexing the spine shortens and pushes the muscles of the abdominals out, unless you are constantly pulling them in, so often crunches create a protruding abdominal area, versus a flat belly.  In an upright position, our abdominals are actually turned on, and flattened, when the spine is extended, as in leaning slightly back and reaching overhead.  Therefore, for a flat belly, we should exercise and train in that position.  Try these two exercises to flatten your belly and develop a strong core.

Standing wood-chop with a medicine ball + Standing cable/rope-pull - Start with a medicine ball weighing between 5 – 10% of your body weight.  Stand with a slightly staggered stance.  Bring the medicine ball by the side of one hip, as you slightly swing the hips back; then as you drive your hips forward, keeping the abs tucked in and engaged, bring the ball over the opposite side shoulder extending the spine with a slight rotation.  Do between 10 and 15 reps, then switch feet and sides and repeat.  Immediately following the wood-chops, grab a cable pulley with a rope, set at a height taller than yourself, and again with a staggered stance, do the opposite motion pulling the rope down from over the shoulder on one side, toward the opposite side hip, by squeezing the abs.  This will feel more like a crunch exercise with a slight rotation, but in a standing position.  The key is that you are starting with your spine extended beyond neutral.  Do between 10 and 15 reps in each direction with each foot forward.

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Side Planks lowering & raising to plank with rotation - Start by lying on your side.  Your upper body is supported by your forearm, while your lower body is anchored by your feet (intermediate to advanced) or by your knees (beginner).  Pressing down on your forearm, raise your hips up in the air and squeeze your oblique muscles on the side facing down to push your hips as high as they will go without rotating your body.  After holding for a brief pause at the top, slowly lower your hips back down until they lightly touch the ground, then immediately raise them again for another rep.  Repeat for 8 to 12 reps, hold at the top and take the opposite arm that is free; swing it under and through the opposite arm, then back so it is straight up in the air.  Repeat this rotation for 8 to 12 reps, then repeat the entire sequence on the other side.

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Saran Dunmore, Trainer- MTV " I Used to Be Fat"

Jackknife - One of my favorite moves to push the crunch aside is the jackknife with feet on the ball.  Adding the ball to this move increases the rotational wasitline muscles as well increases balance muscles on the entire bodyStart with feet up on the ball and body extended.  Starting with the arms reach up toward the ceiling. This works the entire length of the abs. Perform 10-15 repetitions with feet on the ball and then 10-15 more with knees bent and arms reaching overhead.

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Lunge With Overhead Shoulder Press - Anytime you emphasize one side of your body it forces your core muscles to contract and engage.  Place a dumbbell in your hand, lift it over your head and hold it steady.  Slowly descend to one knee, keep your stomach tight and your back flat as you bend down to the ground.  Do 15 reps then switch the dumbbell to your other hand and kneel down on the opposite knee.

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