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Why We Need Strong Abdominal Muscles
Before we start, let's look at why we want to firm up our abs. Sure, a smooth tummy and good abs look sexy. But there are other good reasons as well. Doing ab exercises regularly will:-
* Strengthen and support your back, and help prevent back injuries
* Specialized abdominal exercise for women (not the standard crunches!) can help during pregnancy
* Provide a workout for your internal organs as well
* Help in everyday tasks like bending, lifting and stretching
The truth is though, ab exercises alone will not cause you to lose much weight. If you have excess tummy fat, it doesn't really matter how much you exercise your abs. You'll still keep that extra weight around the mid-section. You have to get your weight down close to your ideal body weight to really notice a difference. The best way to firm up your abs is to adopt an all-round approach. Following are some tips to help you do this.
Fat burning exercises
Join a gym and start a strength training program. This type of exercise will help you burn off fat directly. Of course you will want to include some ab exercises as part of your workout routine - get the advice of a trainer on the best abdominal exercises for women.
Do some aerobics
Any aerobic exercise like walking, running, swimming etc is an excellent way to burn off extra calories. This should be an essential part of your weight loss program. Your goal is to use up more calories than you consume.
You'll need to reduce your calories if you want to achieve a weight reduction. I recommend trying to change your diet rather than making big adjustments in the amount you eat. Try to stay away from the obvious weight gaining foods like French fries, sweets and pastries and alcohol in excess.
Even though you'll start to feel better quite soon, it may take a little longer to visibly notice a difference. The good news is - it will happen, so stick with it!
Exercise Your Abs at home.
If you can take a few minutes every day there is a simple, but extremely effective, abdominal exercise you can do at home. This is called the Bicycle Movement, and it is acknowledged as one of the best ab exercises. (No equipment required!)
- Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and legs extended
- Contract your abdomen and lift one leg towards you while bending your knee
- As you do this, raise your shoulders slightly off the floor without (don't force your neck)
- Now bring your opposite elbow and knee together to the point where they just touch.
- Lower your shoulders and legs
- Repeat with the alternate leg and arm.
This isn't as difficult as it sounds (although you'll definitely feel the workout in your abs!). After a few repetitions you'll settle into a rhythm, and realize why it's called the bicycle movement.
If you check out our website below, you'll be able to watch a video of this key ab exercise.
Mike is a fitness enthusiast, runner and walker. He is a contributing editor for the Get In Shape web site. Learn more about abdominal workouts by watching the abs exercise videos on the Best Abdominal Exercises page.