Biking to parks and beaches once a week gave me larger leg muscles and firmer abs. So I stopped doing difficult ab exercises like sit-ups.
The Easy and the Hard Way to Build Stomach Muscles
There are a lot of different exercises you can do to strengthen your stomach muscles. However, most of them are harder than they need to be. Your abs muscles are one of the easiest muscle groups to exercise if you know what you are doing. A lot of exercises that focus on other muscles still give your abs a good workout. However, that is also a good reason to take be careful.
If you strain your abdominal muscles too much then you will be sore for days and it will prevent you from doing other things. You can exercise your abdominal muscles 5 or 6 days a week if you want but take it easy. I would spend an hour focused on my legs or arms but not on my abs. Try to spread your ab exercises out doing a little at a time.
12 Easy Ab Exercises
Here are some easy exercises that focus on your abs. Start by doing a few repetitions at a time. Your abdominal muscles stabilize your body. For best results try to maintain good posture and balance using your core muscles.
- Contract your stomach muscles. Breath in deeply then flex your stomach muscles in a downward direction for a few second before exhaling. It is a really simple exercise. Do a few sets each day to build strong ab muscles.
- Suck in your gut for a few seconds then force your gut out. Make sure you wear loose clothing like track pants so you do not bust any buttons. Stop if you start to feel a lot of discomfort.
- Lay on your back and stretch out. Then raise you feet a few inches. It is harder than it looks but it does not take long to get used to it. You should be able to feel the strain on your stomach muscles. Relax and pay attention to your body so I you can tell if it is working. When I do this exercise I usually lay on the couch.
- Lie face down with your arms and legs stretched outward. Raise your right arm and left leg off the ground as far as you are comfortable with. Hold for a few second then relax. Then repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Most of the work should be done by your core muscles like your abs.
- Jump up and down. Jumping rope or just jumping up and down is a good exercise for strengthening your ab muscles and getting rid of fat.
- Stand on one leg. When you balance yourself you use your core muscles like your abdominal and back muscles.
- Planks and push-up require you to use your ab muscles to stay in position. If you keep good form and do not let your gut sag down you will work out you abs and your arms.
- Yoga, pilates, tai chi and qigong focus on your core muscles. They are good for firming your abs. Balance and flexibility can be improved just like strength and endurance. So give yourself time to improve. You can stick with the easier exercises or move on to more advance ones.
- Swimming can give you a full body workout. You can burn calories and strengthen your abdominal muscles at the same time. Doing the breast stroke will give you a nice workout.
- Punching can be a fun way to get some exercise. You can shadow box, use a punching bag or spar. While you are exercising your arms you are also working out your abs. It is one of the best upper body cardio exercises.
- Riding a bike requires balance and stability. It can be a nice relaxing way to burn calories, build leg muscle and strengthen your abs. Maintain good posture and go to places with turns and changing terrains. Exercise bikes do not work as well. My abdominal muscles are firm because I do a lot of long distance biking.
- Running requires stability. Maintaining proper posture and your balance works your ab muscles. The heavy breathing that is often involved in running also works your abs. If you run where it is harder to maintain your balance you will get better results. When using a machine your abs get a better workout if you maintain your own balance instead of holding on to the machine.
Some of the fat in your abdominal area may be below your muscles. It is called visceral fat. Since it is hard it can be mistaken for muscle but it is bad for your health. For example it can lead to heart attacks. Other fat is just below the skin and covers your muscles.
Since most of the exercises that focus on your abs are not very good for getting rid of fat you should lose the fat first or while you are working on strengthening your abdominal muscles. When I want to lose belly fat I usually try to burn more calories and build more muscle by competing against myself.
Changing your habits is difficult. So is burning enough calories to lose inches of belly fat. My fat loss trick that works is to make it fun. Being active and competing against yourself is a good way to reduce boredom. Instead of trying to lose weight do it as a form of entertainment.
Ab exercises like sit-ups, leg raises and ab rollouts are good for firmer ab muscles but they are not good for getting rid of the fat. Cardio exercises like biking burn more calories and your abs still get a good workout. I can burn over 1,000 calories in one cardio session and strengthen my abs at the same time.
Biking to beaches gave me rock hard leg muscles and firm abs. After I started doing more cardio there was no reason to do sit-ups or planks. Running, biking and walking was enough to get the results I wanted and I never liked sit-ups.
Instead of doing a lot of boring ab exercises I can go for a relaxing bike ride and strengthen my heart, my leg muscles and my stomach muscles while burning a lot of calories. While I am at the beach walking on the uneven sand works my core muscles. In the winter I get a good workout walking my dog in the snow.
The calorie counter on my elliptical display only has 3 digits. Most of the time I burn over 1,000 calories but it stops counting at 999. If it had 4 digits I could have taken a picture showing that I burned 2,000 calories in a single workout.
Most people do shallow chest breathing. I switched to deep slow belly breathing after I started listening to meditation music. Focus on the way your breath. Breath more deeply and imaging the air is going in and out of your stomach. Your stomach should now be moving as you inhale and exhale.
Practice using deep slow belly breathing until you breath that way most of the time and your stomach muscles will get more exercise. Your stomach muscles will become a bit stronger and you will feel more relaxed. It takes work at first but it will soon become more natural.
Forcing air in and out is another way to strengthen your ab muscles. Take a quick breath in then force the air out. Repeat a few times and you should start to feel your ab muscles working.
Try to maintain good posture. While sitting or standing straight you use your abdominal muscles. You also use them to maintain good posture while you are exercising. When you stand try to stand straight instead of slouching and while you are sitting try to sit straight without leaning against anything. If you are lifting weights and you are supposed to be standing still try not to sway.
You want your body to be like a strong tree. It should be able to stand on its own. If you have trouble maintaining good posture, practice. After your muscles become firmer it will become easier.
- Exercises That Burn the Most Calories per Minute
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How to Get Firm Abs Without Ab Workouts
There are cardio, bodyweight and weight lifting exercises that work most of your muscles. You don't need to do an ab workout to get firm abdominal muscles. If you need to stabilize your body or maintain your balance then the exercise is working your abs.
Pick some leg and arm exercises that work most of your muscles. Then focus on getting fit by improving your strength and endurance while maintaining good posture. Working more muscles burns more calories and builds more muscle.
If you want rock hard abs then you will need to include some ab workouts and it will probably hurt. Switch from easy abdominal workouts to the hardest ones. You should really feel your abs and it may be painful. Difficult ab workout usually only last a minute or two. Then you need to give the muscles time to recover.
My favorite ab workouts are biking to the beach and leg raises with a medicine ball. Biking is fun, relaxing and tiring. I may bike 2 to 3 hours in one day. Weighted leg raises are not fun. They are difficult and uncomfortable but I like the results and it only takes 2 to 3 minutes.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Michael H
Chandramohan on January 11, 2018:
I have a stomach fat in my body.how to reduce that fat
you have any idea please you should be tell me
FitnessMarkLorie from Longs, SC on April 07, 2012:
The plank is the king of all ab exercises in my opinion!