The BIGGEST problem area that moms come to me seeking help for is their stomach area. This is very understandable, from a physical standpoint, a larger waste makes the body look chunky and shorter. From a health standpoint, abdominal fat is the MOST dangerous fat in the body and contributes more to heart disease than any other type of fat. From an injury prevention standpoint, a strong core is VITAL to eliminating or preventing back pain… I am sure you have heard about someone, or have experienced it first hand the extreme pain of throwing your back out by doing something as simple as picking up your child! According to the Mayo clinic, 80% of American’s will experience lower back pain, but 80% of those who have lower back pain could eliminate or reduce their lower back pain by doing specific exercises that will almost guarantee a much healthier and happier back!
Just remember, you need to be eating the right foods to lose the fat, otherwise core specific exercises will not matter much from a physical standpoint, meaning you won’t SEE a huge change, but you will still FEEL a huge shift in the way your stomach feels and begins to tighten up. But today’s article is focusing on the exercise portion.
Here are my top 5 tips to obtaining a FLAT, STRONG, and TONED, stomach that your friends and family will be jealous of!
1. Focus on the DEEP Core first: The saying “its what’s on the inside that counts,” is so true when it comes to abs. The outer rectus-abdominis muscles are what most moms work when doing crunches, without first working the deep core muscles. In order to activate the deep transverse muscles, two exercises are perfect! The first is a standard plank. When doing a plank make sure to keep the back flat and the belly button pulled in to the spine. The second exercise is called the vacuum and is performed by first exhaling all the air out of your lungs. You then hold your breath as you suck your stomach in, pulling the belly button in towards the spine. This exercise is a deep “drawing in” which is totally opposite of a crunch where you focus in on flexing the abs. Hold it for about 10 seconds and then catch your breath and repeat 10-15 times. Click here if you would like a video demonstration of the exercises.
2. Next work on the obliques: The obliques are so important for twisting and bending side to side. My two favorite oblique exercises are the oblique side plank and the oblique ball crunch. The side plank is similar to the front plank, but now you are stacking your feet and balancing on your forearm, this will also work those deep transverse muscles as well! The second is an oblique crunch on the ball, to do this you stack your hips and put your feet up against a wall for support. The ball is placed on your lower hip area and you lower your upperbody down towards the ground, after the abs have been stretched you will the engage the obliques and crunch up.
3. Don’t forget to work the lower back muscles: The lower back muscles are so important for keeping the back upright when we are sitting at a computer or driving in the car. It is very easy to forget about these muscles. The best exercise for this area is swimmers. Lay on your stomach with your hands outstretched. Engage the lower back and lift your legs and chest off the ground. Make sure to keep the legs straight out in front of you as you are lifting up. Move your arms and legs up and down for about 30 seconds.
4. Work the outer muscles, the rectus abdominis last, not first like most people do: After all the other muscle groups have been worked, it is ok to finish out with some type of crunch. My favorite are ball crunches. To do this, put your lower back on the ball and lay back nice and far in order to stretch the abs out, once you have done that, curl your upper body up about 45 degrees, you don’t need to sit it up all the way to get the benefits. Slowly lower back down and repeat about 20 times.
5. Keep changing the workouts up, and working the muscles from all DIFFERENT angles: It is easy to get in a rut. Make sure to have many different exercises that work the same area, but from different angles, this will prevent imbalances, and make sure that the core doesn’t have any weaknesses in it!
I have about 50 core specific exercises that I like to do, in order for the abs to continually get stronger and to make sure that I don’t get injured by only focusing on one area of the core. My Got Core DVDs will be released Dec 14th at 7 AM CST and will have over 2 hours worth of core specific routines that will follow all of the rules stated above. Make sure to be on the newsletter list, because we only have a limited number available and it will be first come first to get them, so make sure to be the first to know!
Like I mentioned in the beginning, nutrition plays the largest role in fat loss and a flat stomach. This coming Monday Dec 7th, I will be having a grocery store tour teaching you the right foods to eat to burn fat and get a flat stomach. Click here for more details and to sign up. Space is limited!