The lower abdominals are one of the toughest areas to target, but vital to a toned torso. “This exercise pushes the lower abdominals really hard, an area that’s often weak and overlooked,” says the personal trainer Matt Roberts.
Lie on your back, with your arms behind your head and your legs in the air at a right angle to your body. Make sure you draw your belly button in, so that your lower back touches the floor.
Lower your right leg to the floor, but don’t let your heel touch the ground. Raise it back up and repeat with the left leg. Keep your abs tight throughout. Aim for 10-20 repetitions on each leg.
A fit, firm torso isn’t all about a six-pack. “The oblique muscles down your side are an important area to focus on if you want to hone your waist and banish love handles,” says the personal trainer Charlotte Ord. “This is a very simple move that specifically targets your obliques.”
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a small bottle of water or can in each hand (optional). With your arms by your sides, slowly slide one arm down towards your knee – make sure that your body goes directly sideways, and isn’t rotating forwards or backwards.
Another brilliant exercise for toning and strengthening the lower abs, and Matt says: “The press-up position will also do wonders for your core-stability.”.
Lie face down on the floor, with your palms of your hands underneath your shoulders and legs extended out behind you, with the balls of your feet on the floor. Raise yourself up with your arms, maintaining a stable, straight torso. Get someone to check that you’re not sticking your bottom up in the air.
Holding this position, slowly lift one foot off the floor and bring your knee in towards your upper body. Stop raising the leg at the point you feel your lower back bending, and slowly return to starting position. Repeat on the other side. Aim for 15-25 on each leg.
This takes the traditional stomach crunch up a notch. “It makes you contract your abs throughout, while forcing you to bring in the obliques [the abdominal muscles that run down your side] to control the movement,” says Matt. “Focus on getting the position absolutely right and using your stomach muscles rather than letting your back to bow.”
Lie on your back, with your hands by your ears and legs extended out. Raise your upper and lower body at the same time to meet in the middle to form a V. Control your upper and lower body to lower back down slowly. The move is much more effective if performed slowly and precisely. Aim for 10-20 repetitions.
Charlotte says “adding a hip extension to the standard plank position brings in your gluteal muscles [buttock muscles], which contribute to a strong core.”
Lie on your front, with hands under your shoulders. Lift up so that you’re resting on your forearms. Ensure your body is in a straight line and your bottom is not sticking up. Slowly raise one leg, keeping your core tight to make sure your body doesn’t rotate. Lower the leg and repeat on other side. Aim for 10-15 raises on each side.
Slowly come back up to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Aim for 15-20 repetitions on each side. To make it slightly harder, bend your elbows and put your hands up by your temples.
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