How to Tone a Long Torso
Having a long torso means you tend to have more space in between the top of your chest and hips compared to other people, and along with it, shorter-looking legs. Like everyone else though, your abdominal region is made up of groups of muscles that include the rectus abdominis, or "six-pack," as well as the obliques that start at the sides and extend around to the back. That long torso might mean you're more concerned about toning that area over others, but how you can best go about it might depend on your overall body type.
Body Type & General Exercise
Assess your overall body type. If you're an ectomorph, you're likely to have long limbs, be tall and thin and have trouble putting on weight. You may also tend to be the "long-torso" type. If you're an endomorph, you're something of the opposite, meaning you'll tend to have more body fat and may have trouble getting muscular. If you're a mesomorph, you'll be the type who can add muscle easily or may have a more "average" body type that is neither overly thin or fat. With your long torso, you're not as likely to have the typical "stocky" build of an endomorph. However, since everyone's different, you could be any one of these types. Knowing which one you are can help you design a program that works best for you.
Decide where and how you'll exercise, depending on your body type and your specific goals. Ectomorphs should do more weight training to get a more toned look. If you're one of them, join a gym or find a fitness center where you can use strength training equipment. Endomorphs, meanwhile, should focus on losing fat through aerobic exercise to lose the mass that will help their abs muscles appear. Then also add short strength-training sessions for toning. For that, you won't necessarily need a gym. You can walk, run, jog, swim or do any other heart-pumping activity to burn calories. Use dumbbells or do basic body weight exercises at home to tone. Mesomorphs can have a more balanced routine of strength training and aerobic exercise, though they'll have to stick to low-weight exercises to avoid bulking up. That could include a part-time gym routine including aerobic exercise and strength training, as well as home exercises.
Carve out at least 30 minutes for exercise at least five days a week. For ectomorphs, plan to spend three days strength training and two days doing low-intensity aerobic exercise. For endomorphs, break it up so you're doing aerobic exercise four or five days a week, with one extra day spent strength training. For mesomorphs, break up your time more evenly, doing aerobic exercise three days a week and low-intensity strength training two days a week. Your strength training routines should include exercises for all major muscle groups, including squats and lunges for the legs and butt, biceps and triceps curls and chest presses for the arms, chest and shoulders, as well as abdominal exercises for the torso.
Effective Abs Exercises
Perform the "captain's chair" exercise to tone the rectus abdominis and obliques. According to an American Council on Exercise study, this was one of the most effective exercises for toning both areas. Stand with your feet on the foot rests and place your back against the back rest. Grasp a hand hold in each hand and then bend your knees to raise them toward your chest. With your long torso, this may be less difficult for you than it would be for those with longer legs, since you'll have to lift a relatively lower amount of body weight. Raise and lower your legs for a total of 15 times and then stop. If you're an ectomorph, take a break and do a second set. Mesomorphs and endomorphs should do one set only.
Lie down on an exercise mat in preparation for another highly effective ab-toning exercise, the bicycle crunch. Bend your knees, rest your hands behind your ears and place your feet on the floor. Raise one knee toward your chest as you extend the opposite elbow out to meet it. Since your torso is longer, it may be harder for you to meet your elbow to your knee compared to other people. At the same time, extend the other leg and keep it raised about two inches above the floor. When the knee gets near to its opposite elbow, move that leg to the extended position just above the floor, move the elbow back to the starting position, and then bend the opposite knee to move it close to its opposite elbow. This will resemble the "cycling" motion you'd do on a bicycle. Repeat the motion on each side 15 times. If you're an ectomorph, take a short break and then do a second set.
Get an exercise ball you can use at home and then perform crunches on it. Sit on the ball and then lie back to situate your middle to lower back on top of the ball. Keep your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, and then place your hands behind your ears. Raise your upper and mid-back off the ball, keeping your lower body stationary, and then lower your body back onto the ball. With your long torso, you can also add intensity by allowing your entire torso to curve around the top of the ball -- just be sure you're recruiting your abdominals and not your back muscles as you raise your body off the ball. Ectomorphs should complete one set of 20, take a break and then do a second set. Try to do these exercises every other day. For mesomorphs and endomorphs, do a set of 20 reps two or three days a week.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.