Crunches & Leg Lift Exercises to Tone the Stomach
Your abdominals are a complex group of muscles that can be difficult to work out with regular aerobic exercise or weight training. Targeted crunches and leg lifts benefit your abs. When you're toning your stomach muscles, the most important thing to remember is that doing 10,000 crunches poorly is far less effective than doing 10 crunches properly.
Settle on five or six types of crunches and leg lift exercises to tone your stomach and repeat them daily, gradually increasing the number of repetitions as your strength improves and they become easier.
Many say the old-fashioned crunch still works to tone the abs. Lie on your back with your hands crossed over your chest and your knees bent. Using your abdominal muscles, lift your shoulders off the floor. Exhale on the way up and inhale on the way back down.
Another good exercise for abs is to lie on your back with your feet straight up in the air. Cross your ankles. Use your abs to lift your hips up off the floor, hold for a few seconds, and slowly lower.
Hanging leg raises are very effective abdominal exercises, according to Ab-Core-and-Stomach-Exercises.com. Grab onto an overhead bar, hang from it and slowly lift your legs straight out. If you can’t get to the gym, use the bar on your kids’ swing set, or use a set of handrails on your stairwell.
Lie down on the floor with your body stretched straight out. Keeping your hips and shoulders firmly on the floor, use your abs to raise your legs straight up. When you get really good at these exercises, add ankle weights and increase repetitions and sets to improve your strength even more.
Toned stomach muscles do more than look good when you wear a swimsuit. Strong abs can make other exercises easier and help keep your posture straight and true. You may even be able to breathe more easily and sit comfortably for long periods when your core muscles are strong.
Experts don't recommend putting your hands behind your neck when you perform ab crunches. You may tend to use your hands to lift your body rather than using your ab muscles, and this puts a strain on your neck.
Remember that doing a few crunches and leg lifts properly is better than repeating a half-hearted or ineffective movement many times, according to Flat-Stomach-Exercises.com. You should not need to do more than 25 repetitions. If you aren’t feeling like your core has had a workout, it’s time to add to your routine.
Whether you want to look good naked or just want to have a strong, stable body, crunches and leg lift exercises to tone the stomach are an important addition to your exercise routine. They take only minutes to do, and you can perform them every day even if you're taking a day off from more structured exercises. However, Womanlinks.com reminds us that they must be accompanied by aerobic activity and a low-fat diet in order to reduce the fat stores covering up those newly defined muscles.
Jamie Simpson is a researcher and journalist based in Indianapolis with more than 10 years of professional writing experience. She earned her B.S. in animal science from Purdue University and her Master of Public Affairs in public management from Indiana University. Simpson also works as a massage therapist and equine sports massage therapist.