Abdominal Exercises To Tone And Strengthen Your Stomach

Black and white photo of a male torso showing flat stomach and absIf there is one part of the human body that we have covered more than any other in these pages, it has to be the stomach. There are many ways to work your abs. Do not make the classic mistake of thinking that crunches are the only way to strengthen abdominals. To build a six pack you need to hit your abs from all angles, work the different muscles with different exercises and apply varying amounts of resistance.

Although it is thought that abdominal bicycles are the best abs exercise, you really need to perform a variety. Here we list some classic abdominal exercises that will definitely provide the variation required to build a solid set of 6 pack abs.


There are many ways to work your abs and to develop a strong core and defined abdominals you need to work them in a variety of ways. Just doing the same crunches every day will not get the best results. Hit them hard and hit them often. Get inspiration from these video workouts.

15 minute abs workout for a flat stomach

This is a simple but effective 15 minute core workout for building abs. This stomach workout starts with several variations on the basic crunch, then move on to leg raises, stretches, full planks, side planks, then some more stretches from yoga, including the cobra and child postures. It finishes with some cat stretches to help strengthen the lower back.

It is important to remember that performing stomach exercises is a great way of improving core strength, however these exercises alone will not help you to lose weight around the stomach.

To lose fat from your waistline you need to perform full body workouts and eat a calorie restricted diet to burn fat. This means that you have to reduce the amount of calories you are eating every day. In addition to this, you should aim to eat mostly low GI foods as these contain less sugar, and it is sugar that causes people to put on weight.

Full body workouts are simply when you exercise all your muscle groups. Intensive interval training combined with circuit training exercises is possibly the best way to lose weight. You need to get your heart rate high for short bursts by doing sprints (running, cycling, rowing all work equally well) and also work your whole body with squats, push ups, crunches, mountain climbers and other circuit training exercises.

Weight training is also a very effective way to burn more fat. It is recommended that in addition to doing this 15 minute abs workout you also do some basic beginners weight training exercises to help strengthen and tone the entire body. Getting a flat stomach requires much more than just perform stomach exercises.

These stomach exercises can form part of a regular full body exercise routine, and will certainly strengthen your abs to help you start to develop a flat stomach and six pack.

Remember that if your aim is to lose stomach fat and tone your mid-section then you need to be performing some intensive cardio workouts as well as doing these ab toning exercises.

In addition to this, you also need to ensure that your diet is very healthy and provides enough protein to aid muscle development but fewer calories that your body needs to promote fat burning. Learn more by reading our articles on losing weight.

Abdominal cycles and bicycle crunches

Abdominal Cycles, also known as bicycle crunches, are thought to be the best stomach exercise you can do. Many fitness instructors believes that these are even more effective than crunches, and certainly much better than a sit up. These are an excellent way to work your core and form an essential part of a weight loss plan.

To do a bicycle crunch start by lying on your back in a crunch / sit up position. Place your feet flat on the mat with your legs about 45 degrees. Place your hands behind your head and gently hold.

To start raise your shoulders off the floor and then bring your right knee upwards and twist your torso slightly so that your left elbow meets your right knee. Then smoothly twist and switch legs so that as each knee is raised you twist and meet it with the opposite elbow.

You should perform this with a smooth and continuous motion as if you are riding a bicycle. This is an excellent abdominal exercise that will help you develop a 6 pack and tone the stomach muscles. However, do not hope to lose core fat just by doing these exercises, for that you need to burn the fat off first.

Natural bodybuilding workouts for bigger abs

The three videos below, exercises demonstrated include hanging leg raises, modified crunches and seated leg raises / V-sits on the bench. These are some of the best core bodyweight exercises that can tone and strengthen. Building athletic muscle requires more focus on muscular endurance, and bodyweight training is preferable to intensive weight training lifting very heavy weights.

Emphasis on these workouts is good form and control during the workouts. These videos feature Michael Ferencsik, a professional fitness consultant that is considered to be one of the top natural bodybuilders in the world.

Hanging Leg Raises:

Modified Crunches

Seated Leg Raises / V sits

Boxers / martial artist abdominal workout

All martial artists train their core intensively, as it helps to improve strength, stability and agility, all of which are essential in the ring. Boxing workouts traditionally include many core workouts using “old school” exercises such as leg raises and gym equipment such as medicine balls.

If you want to train your core, then choosing a basic boxing ab workout is a good place to start. For this workout you will need a partner and a medicine ball. This is a classic old school fitness training.

The exercise in this video demonstrates the medicine ball catch and toss, which is designed to strengthen the rectus abdominis (abs) and obliques.

This is a very simple exercise for two people to perform, and pretty standard in boxing gyms and martial arts clubs the world over. Often this exercise would be performed as part of the main conditioning part of a martial art class, generally for about 60 seconds before partners swap places.

You can do a very similar exercise on your own given some space and a large flat wall. To do so on each sit up throw a medicine ball (not a hard one) at a wall in front of you.

Ideally the ball will land and bounce before coming to meet your hands on each throw so that it does not interrupt your set.

It takes some practice but means that you can perform an abs medicine ball exercise by yourself.

Is spot reduction of fat possible?

We at MotleyHealth have firmly believed for some time now that spot reduction is not possible. Although many people think that exercising one body part, usually the stomach, will help to reduce fat in this area, this is not true. Well, that has been our stance, until we unearthed research which makes other suggestions. Spot reduction of fat may actually be possible – although not to the extent that many people hope for!


The argument against spot reduction

Body fat does not respond to the presence of muscle, and cannot be worn down through exercise. Where we accumulate fat is largely dependent on gender, age and genetics.

Women accumulate more subcutaneous fat (the fat beneath the skin) than men do, which causes larger bottoms and thighs and loose skin under the arms.

Men on the other hand produce visceral fat first, which is the fat that surrounds internal organs. This is why some men can develop beer bellies and remain lean elsewhere. Visceral fat poses the greatest health risk, which is why men are more likely to develop heart problems than women.

The only way to reduce fat from one area of the body is to reduce total body fat. And the only way to do this is to exercise vigorously, combining intensive cardio training with resistance training. Following a healthy diet is also essential, however diet alone cannot easily shift visceral fat, which is the reason why so many people struggle to lose their stomach fat and show off their abs.

With a simple understanding of how fat accumulates, and how it is burnt off, spot reduction must be impossible. But is this the full story?

The Argument for Spot Reduction

Some limited research by physiologists has actually indicated that fat deposits, specifically subcutaneous adipose tissue (fat under the skin) does show signs of responding to weight-bearing exercise. Fat cells immediately adjacent to new muscle tissue appears to reduce.

In one study there was actually significant reductions in abdominal fat in women that had exercised their stomachs, and in another study of men, the effect of squats on fatty tissue around the knees was examined, the result indicated that fat cells in close proximity to newly formed muscle tissue were more likely to decline than in other areas of the body.

Possibly the strongest evidence to support the idea of spot reduction of fat is from research carried out by the Department of Medical Physiology, University of Copenhagen. It found that weight-bearing exercise increased lipolysis (fat burning) in subcutaneous tissue (SCAT):

In conclusion, blood flow and lipolysis are generally higher in SCAT adjacent to contracting than adjacent to resting muscle irrespective of exercise intensity. Thus specific exercises can induce “spot lipolysis” in adipose tissue. (Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 292: E394-E399, 2007. First published September 19, 2006; doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00215.2006 0193-1849/07)

So, is spot reduction possible?

In reality people have found that exercising a specific body part does not lead to spot reduction. There may be very small localized changes to fatty tissue but this is not enough to make any real noticeable difference.

The key is still to train the entire body to lose total body fat content. If you have unlucky genetics the weight will come of the are you are targeting last, and there is nothing you can do about that.

Some people appear to actually burn fat off with spot reduction, but while even they think they are, they are not. For example, often you may see someone in a gym performing hundred of crunches and other core exercises. They may well tell you it is to burn fat, and they may appear to have succeeded. However, the reality is that it is their overall approach, their diet and their intensive cardio sessions combined with a lot of stomach exercises that has won them a flat stomach. They just do not realise this. They may actually benefit from less stomach exercises!

Final notes

The world’s most powerful abdominals will still not make a six pack if they’re hidden. It’s almost everybody’s desire to get attractive six pack abs. Learn how to get a six pack fast with this abs routine.

Exercising the core muscles, the abs (rectus abdominis) and obliques, is something that just about every person trying to lose weight, keep fit, build muscle, train for sports or running, does at some point. It is also the way to develop a six pack, i.e. the well defined abdominal muscles on the stomach.

There are many different methods available to develop these muscles, from martial arts and boxing training methods, to yoga and Pilates, as well as weight training and bodybuilding. Rather than try to evaluate each form of exercise to determine which one is “best” you should try them and see what works best for you.

 

More like this in the Fitness section

  161 comments for “Abdominal Exercises To Tone And Strengthen Your Stomach

  1. MotleyHealth
    May 5, 2015 at 12:07 am

    Hi Kelsi, it is true that at 15 you are still growing and that your body needs calories, but more important than just calories is good nutrition. Get active too. Have you tried yoga? It is great for fitness and strength and you can do it in the summer too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *