As we stare down the barrel of the "unofficial start of summer" this Memorial Day weekend, we may not be exactly where we would like in terms of how we will look poolside or at the beach. Fear not...it is never too late to start working on those problem areas. In this month's edition of Essential Exercises for Women, we are focusing on the dreaded midsection. So let's all get ready to draw our belly button to our spine and get crackin'! Combine this move with regular cardio, a clean (or cleaner) diet including foods that will blast belly fat, and you could have a much flatter tum by the time the "official" start to summer rolls around in June!
Get on the Ball!
The exercise ball is an excellent tool to strengthen the abs and is quite effective for targeting the rectus abdominsi (that is the fancy term for a six-pack!). What makes this move a bit more effective than crunches on the floor is that the legs are often involved in floor crunches. On the ball, the abs do more work, but you still involve the entire body to help stabilize you throughout the movement, a nice bonus that floor crunches don't always offer. There is also the ability to bring the head and shoulders further back, increasing your range of motion as well as intensity.
Here is the "How to":
- Lie on the ball, positioning it under the lower back.
- Cross your arms over the chest or place them behind your head.
- Contract your abs to lift your torso off the ball towards the ceiling, pulling the bottom of your ribcage down toward your hips.
- As you curl up, keep the ball stable (i.e., the ball shouldn't roll).
- Lower back down, getting a stretch in the abs, and repeat for 1-3 sets of 12-15 reps.
VERY IMPORTANT TIP……
You'll get the body you want faster by doing 10 slow repetitions instead of 20 fast ones. Moving slowly--two counts up and two counts down--allows you to use more precise form, which can stimulate your muscles better and make them stronger, says Rodney Corn of the National Academy of Sports Medicine. (The faster you go, the more likely you are to use momentum instead of your abs.) Your muscles should feel tired in 15 reps.
Beach Body 911? We can help!
If the thought of putting on a bathing suit makes you cringe, we can help. We have a full staff of personal trainers and exercise experts who are willing to answer any question you throw at us. Remember it is never too late to get started! Drop us your question in the comments section below or if you are in the Chantilly, Centreville, Herndon, Fairfax area, schedule a FREE CONSULTATION with one of our fitness professionals who can help you map out a plan for success that extends way beyond the beach.