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Benefits of Strong Abdominal Muscles

Strong abdominal muscles are essential for a strong body. They help stabilize your torso, which reduces aches and pains in your lower back and hips.

However, if your belly is like jelly instead of a washboard, don't count on abdominal exercises to trim your tummy fat. Your genetics, diet, and overall activity level determine the amount of fat stored in the abdominal area. The best way to reduce abdominal fat is a combination of aerobic and strength training exercise, plus eating only the amount of calories you need each day for your gender, age, and activity level.

Exercise guidelines:

  • Do the following exercises on the floor, keeping your feet, lower back, and tailbone in contact with the mat.

  • Keep your legs bent and feet flat on the floor, with your heels 12 to 18 inches from your buttocks.

Reverse crunches

These are for your lower abdominal muscles. Lie on your back with your arms spread out to the sides and your palms down. Keep your feet flat and knees bent. 

Contract your lower abdominals to slowly curl your hips off the ground about five inches, with your knees approaching your chest. Slowly lower your hips back down to the ground.

Crunches with a twist

These strengthen your obliques and lateral flexor muscles. Lie on your back with your ankles crossed and your knees bent and out to either side.

Contract your abdominals to lift your shoulders and back off the floor. Twist trunk, bringing left elbow to right knee.

Return to floor and repeat to opposite side.

Upper ab crunches

These are for your upper abdominals. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Grasp hold of your ears. This will keep you from locking your hands behind your head and putting too much pressure on your neck.

While looking straight up and leading with your chin, contract your abdominals to curl your shoulders and upper back off the floor. At the same time, press your lower back to the floor and exhale. Hold for two counts, then return to starting position while inhaling. Maintain proper form and keep your neck relaxed throughout the exercise. 

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