Have you always wanted to have a confident bikini-ready mid-section? Fitness expert, Natalie Carter, introduces five exercises to get you on your way to having a flat stomach and chiselled abdominal muscles this New Year:
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The mid-section responds very well to a moderated diet (i.e you don’t eat and drink crap!) and a combination of medium and high intensity cardio (running, skipping, boxing) and resistance training (lunges, squats, rotational and posture correction exercises) at least 3-4 times per week. You do not get flat abs from just doing crunches, side bends, twists, etc. You do however get flat abs by correcting the way you move and the type of foods you eat. The most effective ab exercises are in place to strengthen and make the most of what you already have. (Note: Genes play a major role. Some people are just born with enviable flat stomachs).
What to eat to get a fabulous stomach?
It is best to munch regularly on protein and nutrient rich foods- Plant and animal proteins, seeds, nuts, fruit and veg, good quality oils- virgin coconut oil or olive, whole grains (in moderation). The food to stay well clear of is processed nutrient void foods such as: SUGAR, white bread, white flour, hydrogenated fats or trans fat (these are evil and found in margarine, some cooking oils- basically its a manufactured/tampered with product that makes people FAT! They are linked to diabetes and heart disease). Also limit your alcohol consumption if you want to see your abs. Throw away the lame, tired and ineffective ab crunch for a plank. Your stomach has muscles that are not dissimilar to the working of a corset. We all want that streamline look, don’t we? Well then stop wasting time with crunches (that will build thickness in your ab area) and start including planks into your regime.
– Balance on elbows and toes – engage navel to spine, tuck pelvis under so you are one straight being.
– Make sure your head is over your hands and keep your body long.
– Hips remain up at all times. If you feel pain in your lower body, check your navel is drawn in and give you hips a little tuck under.
– Hold for 45 secs to start with then continue to build it up.
Repeat 3-4 times.
A variation of the plank with added glute and hip stability. Arms and back will also get stronger.
– Start with arms extended, tuck pelvis under, long body and navel drawn in to spine.
– Slowly lift right leg off the ground by engaging your glute (ass cheek) hold for 3 secs (don’t let that navel relax) and then lower leg down and swap.
– Left leg goes up, hold and return.
20 alternating x 3 sets.
Great for shaping the obliques (love handles). This is a total core workout, when performed correctly.
– Fix the resistance band to something that won’t move (door handle is great).
– Stretch the band so there is some tension on it (this you’ll have to gauge and work at your own level).
– Stand tall, navel to spine, pelvis tuck under, knees slightly bent.
– You now have to keep your hips still (look at my hips are they moving….no! Keep them facing straight ahead).
– Rotate your upper body only with straight arms then return to center and repeat.
– Try for 15-20 reps and repeat on right side.
Repeat 3 times through.
THIS IS THE BEST EXERCISE FOR LOWER ABS. Why? It effectively helps correct the typical ‘sway back’ or ‘banana back” posture lots of people have.
– Lie down on your back with bent knees off the ground and upper body relaxed and long.
– Press you lower back into the floor by rotating your pelvis. You can use your hand as a guide. Place it in the small of your back and try to squash your hand with your lower back. Just keep it there for the first few times to make sure you are doing the exercise correctly.
– With your navel firmly in, slowly lower your heel down to the ground. You may THINK you can do it quite easily but the hand will be your feedback, if it’s not getting squashed while your heel in going down, you need to rotate your pelvis more and draw the navel harder down into your spine.
Alternate legs for 20 and repeat 3 times through. Make sure the reps are all perfect and if need be, just work up to doing 20. We want quality not quantity.
Great for building strength in the obliques and mid section.
– Lie on your side, shoulder over elbow, stack both hips on top of one another. Push up on to side of foot.
– Raise up arm in line with shoulder and look up at your raised arm.
– Hold for 45 secs (increase time as you get better) and then repeat on other side.
Repeat 3 sets through.