The 5 Musts For A Toned Tummy
Very few parts of the body receive as much attention as the tummy, often featuring on magazine covers and epitomizing the zenith of physical conditioning. In this article, personal trainer Tyrone Wessels will share his five musts for creating a toned tummy.
5 Musts for a Toned Tummy
1. Lean and Mean
If you want to see the contours, edges and slim tie-ins of a complete mid section, you need to have a significantly low body fat level. As everyone is unique the required body fat percentage will vary.
However here are a few guidelines to aim for, men 12% and lower will reveal more detail, and ladies tend to do pretty well from about 18% and below. To achieve this one needs a diet that effectively creates an energy deficit, seek the advice from a registered dietitian and or a sport nutritionist.
You can supplement this energy deficit by burning additional calories via low intensity steady state (LISS) and or high intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio.
The abdominal wall is structurally important to the core, as it provides support to the torso in conjunction with the spine and musculature of the back. Correct posture requires being mindful in regard to the small but important contribution of the abdomen.
In fact a strong and habitually engaged abdominal wall preserves the health of the back and ultimately the integrity of the spine. To engage the abdominal wall, take a seat, place your feet firmly on the floor. Now sit upright, you should feel the back straighten and this is what is called a neutral spinal position.
Next place your hands on your tummy, have your two middle fingers on either side of your belly button. Now draw your belly button back in the direction of the spine, this a gentle movement and in yoga it’s called Uddiyana bandha.
3. Abdominal Set-Up
Drawing on the same movement described above (moving the belly button towards the spine). When performing the majority of abdominal isolation exercises it’s truly important to sync your breathing and this Uddiyana bandha movement.
Specifically the exhalation with the contractile phase of many abdominal exercises that cause anterior spinal flexion (ie an abdominal crunch – the crunching part of the movement with a complete exhalation).
Compound exercises like the squat and dead lift utilize multiple muscle groups to complete the movement and also rely heavily on the core’s stabilization. The abdominal region often has to aggressively contract isometrically to provide support to the trunk of the body.
The valsalva maneuver accomplishes this and should be used sparingly as it can cause a sharp rise in blood pressure also resulting in feeling light headed. Seek medical advice prior to using this technique and have a qualified personal trainer or physical therapist demonstrate how to do it safely.
5. Effective Exercises:
Applying the appropriate abdominal setup as explained in point three, here are the best abdominal exercises:
- Bosu / swiss ball crunch
- Standard plank
- Standard crunch
- Reverse crunch
- Side plank
- Hanging leg raises (straight leg and bent leg variations)
- Incline crunches
- Cable crunches
- Broom stick twists
- Wood choppers
- V ups
- Dragon flag
- Human flag
- L Seat
Do keep in mind that the structure of your tummy muscle is entirely dependent on genetics. Meaning that if you have a 4 pack, you cannot train it till it’s a 6 pack, and the left and right side of the abdomen can be very different too!
Embrace whatever structure you have and aim to train your abs consistently over the week at a frequency of about 2 sessions. Obviously you can train them more often, just remember not to become overly focused on their development.
Remember that it’s not only the quantity of the exercises you perform, but rather the quality. Be mindful when exercising.
Read more fitness advice from personal trainer Tyrone Wessels. Follow the link to learn the ins and outs of your gym equipment essentials.