Try these 10 awesome workouts to help tighten and tone your midsection.
Building muscle and losing belly fat in your midsection takes more than doing a few sit-ups. Specially designed workouts — with or without extra weights — help to strengthen abdominal muscles and your body’s core, giving you more physical stability and stamina. Here are 10 top workouts for the midsection.
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Weighted Abdominal Exercises
These exercises, with kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls, or wraparound weights strengthen abdomen muscles and your body’s core. Remember to breathe in a structured, rhythmic way.
- Single-arm Overhead Press. Stand with feet spread. Hold a kettlebell in your right hand and keep your right arm bent at the elbow, close to the body.
Left hand on your left hip, sink your hips into a slight squat. Push through your feet to extend your legs, while pressing the kettlebell straight up until your arm is stretched upward. Slowly bring the kettlebell back to your hips.
- Halo. Stand with feet apart. With both hands, hold the ends of one dumbbell (or the handle of a kettlebell) in front of your face. Bend your elbows. Circle the weight around your head, at eye level.
- Windmill (half-kneeling). Kneel on the left knee with your right foot to the side. Place your foot firmly on the ground. Point your toes to the right.
Hold the kettlebell in your right hand. Move the bell to your chest and lift it overhead.
Lower your body down and touch the floor with your left hand. Lower the elbow and forearm to reach the ground. Reverse the movements to complete, then repeat.
- Squat-Overhead Press. Stand with feet apart, toes pointing out. Hold the dumbbell in either hand, resting it on your shoulder.
Slide into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Raise your hands straight up, while slowly standing up. Lower your hands back to your shoulders.
Don’t underestimate the power of your own body weight. Moving your hips helps improve your mobility and reduce pain.
- Lunging Twist. Basic forward lunges strengthen the lower body and trunk’s oblique muscles as they improve balance.
Stand with your feet slightly spread. Draw your shoulder down and back, stiffen your mid-section. Take a large step forward with your right foot, lower, and bend both knees.
Extend your arms straight ahead. Twist your waist to the right as far as you can, then return to the center position. Repeat, twisting to the left. Alternate each lunge.
- Flat Crunches. This classic exercise targets what is commonly called the “six-pack” of abdominal muscles.
Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor.
Place your hands across your chest or behind your head. Breathe in—lift your upper body off the floor using your core muscles. Exhale while crunching and lowering your back down to the floor.
- Bicycle Crunches. Effective for upper and lower ab muscles, bicycle crunches are as simple as … well, you know.
Lay flat and put your hands behind your head.
Lift your legs off the floor and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle. Bring your right elbow toward your left knee—keep your right leg straight. Alternate sides, so it seems like you’re pedaling a bike.
- Planks. This full-bodied exercise involves the core muscles pulling at your waist.
Begin in a “push-up” position with your feet together and your hands shoulder-width apart. Keep your body straight, letting your core and mid-body muscles handle most of your weight. Hold this position as long as possible.
- Dead Bug. Where this name came from isn’t as important as what this exercise does — strengthens the lower back.
Lie flat on your back, arms reaching for the ceiling, and legs folded up to bend at a 90-degree angle. Lower your right arm and left leg toward the floor, keeping them just above the ground. Straighten your spine.
Return to the starting position, repeat with your left arm and right leg.
Full body and targeted muscle exercises for abdominal workouts in an indoor or backyard swimming pool include water aerobics, pool dancing and walking, kicking, flapping, and swimming laps. While swimming, you’re using your arms, chest, midsection, and shoulders to move through the water, while kicking is good for your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glute muscles.
- Swimming. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that uses just about every muscle in your body, including your core.
Use a Styrofoam pool “noodle” to push down into the water, strengthening various muscles.
Twist and turn with pool toys and floats to increase mobility.
Water’s soft resistance makes swimming a great option for those who have arthritis, joint conditions, osteoporosis, or other mobility issues.
Finding the best type of mid-section exercise that works for you is the key to getting into your own personal groove. Listen to your body — it will tell you what to do.
Teri Silver is a journalist and outdoor enthusiast. She and her husband live on 5 acres with a vast lawn, three gardens, a farm, a pond, many trees, and a lot of yard work! The best parts of the year are summer and fall when home-grown veggies are on the dinner table.