Women always want to know how to flatten their stomach and get sexy looking lines. Here are the five best exercises for developing a sexy midsection.

1 - HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training

How would you like to workout for less time but still achieve the same or better results than a longer workout? If so the answer is HIIT. This is a method of exercise where you alternate between going at high level of effort for short bursts and slowing to a more moderate “rest” pace e.g. 15-20 sec burst followed by 30-40 second rest, then repeat. A typical session lasts from 15-25 minutes depending on your fitness level.

Why is it so important? It burns more calories. You can burn more calories overall and more calories from fat versus lower intensity exercises. Which is amazing in itself but the real benefit comes after your workout is done. Studies have shown that performing HIIT keeps your metabolism raised for up to 24 hours following a session. Meaning you are burning more calories while you sleep, work and play. A Laval University study shows that HIIT helps subjects burn nine times more fat than those who trained the traditional way. Also, doing HIIT can help preserve the muscle mass that you already have, which you tend to lose with lower intensity activities.

2 - The Plank

I have found the plank be one of the most effective abs exercises. In fact, one research study found it to rank highly at 4 out of 13 exercises for the oblique abdominal muscles. Not only does it strengthen the abdominal muscles, but also works all the core muscles, the back and the hips.

Lie face down on mat resting on the forearms, palms flat on the floor. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle.
Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, lower to your knees, rest for a minute and repeat 2-3 times.

3 – Bicycle or Cycling Crunches

This exercise is a great abdominal exercise to work on obliques (the side of your abs) and rectus abs (the long flat muscles along the front sides of the abdomen - 6-pack portion).

You fully extend out one leg while the other is bent and you touch your opposite elbow to the bent leg as if you are doing a twisting crunch. Then you repeat for the other side without taking any rest or dropping your torso back down so the whole time you are doing them your upper body is in a crunch position. It’s tough. Use as big a range of movement as possible until you fatigue then you can make the movement smaller.

4 - Fitness Ball Crunches

Fitness ball crunches should take the pressure off of your back and target your abs so well that the other muscles that usually come in to play during a crunch are left alone.

Lie on the ball, positioning it under the lower back. Cross your arms over the chest or place them behind your head. Contract your abs to lift your torso off the ball, pulling the bottom of your ribcage down toward your hips. The idea is to roll the ball backwards as you crunch down so that your butt gets closer to the ground and then do the opposite on the reverse part. As you curl up, keep the ball stable (i.e., the ball shouldn't roll). Lower back down, getting a stretch in the abs, and repeat for 1-3 sets of 12-16 reps.

5 – Hanging Knee Raise

The hanging knee raise is one of my favourites and is the best exercise for the lower abs by far.

The hanging knee raise should be done slowly whilst hanging from a chin up bar or a roman chair. Raise your knees up towards your waist and then lower and repeat. You should never swing your legs in place but instead the motion should be controlled and your abs should be tensed throughout the whole range of motion (ROM). The best way to do this is to keep your mind focussed on your lower abs and make sure they are doing the work. If you can’t hold your body weight yet try this movement lying on your back.

So there they are, good luck ladies.

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