6 moves for a slimmer belly
Targeting your core muscles from all angles and muscular layers will give you a slimmer appearance and a stronger functional midsection. Here’s how to do it
Get stronger and leaner
The core musculature can be broken down into two units, the inner and outer. The inner unit acts as a internal girdle that provides joint stability to the spine and pelvis during movement. The transverse abdominis (TVA), internal obliques, multifidus, pelvic floor muscles and the thoaco-lumbar fascia are all part of the deep muscular layers. The outer unit muscles work to move the trunk and limbs and support the spine. They are large gross motor muscles that are visible on the surface of the body.
To better understand the inner and outer units, think of a car. If maintenance of the car consists of only washing and polishing the body and neglecting the scheduled oil changes that make the car run smoother, then be prepared to own a pretty car that can’t drive far. Our bodies work in a similar fashion.
These six exercises will incorporate all muscles of the core to keep you running efficiently and dysfunction free.
What you need: A stability ball, mat and a belt.
The routine: Exercises are to be done 2-3 times a week on non-consecutive days for four weeks. Each exercise is to be done for 1-3 sets for the suggested number of repetitions. Rest 30-45 seconds between each set for that particular exercise. Move on to the next exercise once all sets are completed for each exercise.
Begin each abdominal workout by warming up the transverse abdominis (TVA). Prestretching the TVA will help remind your body to keeping it engaged throughout the routine as well as creating a solid foundation around the midsection by forming a non-compressible container.
1. Tummy Vacuum
Begin by tying a belt around your waist at belly-button level. On your hands and knees, have your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
1. As you breathe in, your belly should press against the belt.
2. As you breathe out, draw your belly button toward the spine. (Activating the TVA will loosen the belt).
3. Hold the position for 10 seconds. Keep breathing normally as you hold the TVA.
4. Relax and repeat 8-10 times.
2. Lower Abdominal Pelvic Lifts
(Works TVA and pelvic floor)
Lie on your back with knees bent, hips flexed 90 degrees, feet off the mat and arms at your sides.
1. Roll the pelvis back (flattening the spine against the mat) and lift the knees 1-2 cm straight up toward the ceiling so the tailbone lifts off the mat. When lifting the knees you should feel yourself pulling in the pelvic floor muscles. Avoid moving the knees toward the chest.
2. Repeat 15-20 times with small pulses.
3. Torso Twist on the Ball
(Works obliques, butt, thighs and back)
Place your head and shoulders on the ball. Keep hips up and feet shoulder width apart. Arms are straight above your chest with hands clasped together.
1. Slowly roll onto the side of your arm by rotating at the waist. Keep your hip bones facing the ceiling throughout the movement.
2. Return to starting position and repeat on the same side for 12-15 repetitions.
Intermediate: Hold a dumbbell (as seen in picture)
Advanced: Hold a dumbbell and alternate sides
4. Oblique Crunch Chop on the Ball
(Works obliques, rectus abdominis, TVA and back)
Place your back and pelvis on the ball with feet shoulder width apart. Arms are straight and hands clasped together above the head.
1. Curl up to bring your weight toward the outside of the right leg in a chopping-like manner. Keep the pelvis and TVA activated so the ball does not move. Ensure your head, neck and shoulders all move as one unit. Imagine you are trying to bring the bottom of the left rib to the top of the right hip bone in a diagonal fashion.
2. Return to starting position in a slow and controlled manner by untwisting and straightening yourself one vertebra at a time.
3. Repeat 10-12 times per side.
Intermediate: Add weight by holding a dumbbell (as seen in picture)
Advanced: Hold a dumbbell, alternating sides with feet together
5. Plank Press-ups
(Works core, arms and shoulders)
Get in a kneeling push-up position with wrists directly under shoulders. Keep your back flat so that a straight line can be drawn from the top of your head to your tailbone. Pull your belly button in toward your spine.
1. Bend the left arm to bring the forearm on the mat. Then follow with the right arm.
2. Straighten the left arm then right arm to return to starting push-up position. One repetition is complete.
3. Repeat, this time beginning with the right forearm. Keep alternating arms until you have completed 10-12 repetitions.
Intermediate: Try in a full push-up position with feet shoulder width apart (as seen in photo).
Advanced: Try doing on the dome (round part) of a Bosu ball
6. Back Extensions
Lie on your stomach with your hands at your sides and arms stretched out along your sides at a 45-degree angle. Rotate your arms outward, moving shoulder blades down the back, so that your palms face outward and your thumbs point up.
1. Lift your upper body and arms off the mat, being careful not to overarch the lower back. Keep your pelvis on the mat and nose pointing down to ensure your head and spine remain in a neutral alignment.
2. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds. Rest and repeat.
Jesseny Rojas is a personal trainer who uses a multi-disciplinary approach to empower individuals with a sense of ownership over their health, fitness and overall well-being.