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Tighten Your Tummy

While there are many exercises that target the stomach, unfortunately these don't help unless they are combined with cardiovascular exercises. This is because while stomach exercises like abdominal crunches target the abs and reduce the fat, this reduction is only temporary. Excess flesh still remains, which encourages the accumulation of fat in that area. If your paunch is very slight and barely noticeable when you have clothes on, you could get away with doing just abdominal exercises. But if you have a rather large stomach, you need to combine the following abdominal exercises with an aerobic or cardiovascular workout like jogging. 
 

Diet

Just because you've exercised today, doesn't mean you reach for that chocolate pastry without a twang of guilt. Remember, exercise should be combined with the right diet to achieve results. Don't starve yourself, eat well, and eat healthy, nutritious food. Stay away from sweets. Of course, you can nibble on the occasional desert, but don't make it a habit, even if you don't have a tendency to gain weight. It's just not good for you. 
 

Breathing

It's always confusing to remember when to inhale and when to exhale. The basic rule of thumb to follow is to INHALE when 'opening up' and EXHALE when curling up. This rule is applicable to around 90% of all exercises, and to all abdominal exercises, so by following it you can be sure that you're exercising the right way. 
 

Stomach crunches

Almost everyone knows this basic abdominal exercise: knees bent, hands behind head, feet and lower back flat on the floor, lift torso upwards slightly and come down. Here are some basic pointers to keep in mind when performing this exercise:

  1. Don't bring your elbows close together when you lift your torso off the floor. 

  2. Don't try and touch your head to your knees. You don't have to get up completely. Just lift yourself a few inches off the floor. 

  3. EXHALE when lifting yourself, and INHALE when coming down. 

  4. When you lift yourself, try and hold this position for a few seconds. Start with 2 seconds, and work up to 5 seconds. This is far more beneficial than doing numerous quick crunches. 

  5. Gradually increase the number to sets of 10-15 crunches. Do around 5 sets. If you manage to hold each lift for a few seconds, 5 sets should be more than sufficient. Once you've mastered this, you could gradually work up to 10 sets. 


Reverse crunches

1. Keep your hands flat out on your sides. 

2. Lift your feet off the floor, so your knees form a 90 degree angle with your torso. 

3.Using your stomach muscles, EXHALE and bring your knees forward so they touch your chest. Hold. 

4. Slowly, INHALE and push them backwards till they reach the 90 degree position once again. Do 5 sets of 10-15 reverse crunches. 

5. Once you've mastered the basic reverse crunch, try this: instead of bringing your knees forward, straighten one leg at a time till your toe touches the floor. 

6. Slowly, work up to straightening both legs together, and brining them up again. Remember, the key is to do this slowly. (Ouch!) 


Warming up and stretching

Before beginning any form of a workout, whether it is cardiovascular or spot training, it is imperative that you first warm up. Warming up could include some spot jogging, or if you are out in the open, a brisk walk. Cool down after you complete your workout, and then stretch. Stretches should be performed at the fag end of your workout, when your muscles are already warm and flexible, to reduce chances of them tearing. 
 

And finally, some good news: abdominal exercises need not be done more than three times a week. So do them regularly, and do them right. You'll be thrilled with the results.
 
 

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