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The Best Stomach Exercises For Women

standing-oblique-crunch
(Image credit: Unknown)

Working your stomach muscles is important for a number of reasons. Not only do our abdominal muscles help to hold us up, but they also protect our spine and hold our organs in place.

There are a number of muscles that make up our core and these are attached to the pelvis or spine. When you strengthen these muscles with stomach exercises you’ll find your posture and flexibility improve. Stronger core muscles can also help make everyday movement easier, from lifting heavy things to simply getting out of bed.

Although most stomach exercises are not suitable for pregnant women, those who go into pregnancy with strong stomach muscles should find it easier to cope, because this strength helps them avoid strain on their back from carrying the extra weight and the change in their centre of gravity.

These five moves involve no equipment and can be done in the comfort of your own home. Add them to your workouts, or string them together into a circuit using the work and rest times below, completing three rounds in total.

1 High plank

High plank

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Time 30sec Rest 15sec

Lie face down on the floor. Press your body up so your arms are extended and your hands are flat on the floor and directly under your shoulders. Your legs should be extended behind you, resting on your toes. Keep your head facing down, engage your core and keep your body in a straight line. Hold this position.

Plank shoulder taps

Plank shoulder taps

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Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Get into the high plank position as described above. Keeping your core engaged and hips as still as possible, tap your right shoulder with your left hand. Bring your left hand back to the floor, then tap your left shoulder with your right hand. Keep alternating sides. If you’re struggling to keep your hips still, move your feet a little further apart.

3 Half burpee

Half burpee

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Time 30sec Rest 15sec

Get ready to break into a sweat. Start in the plank position again, then jump your feet forwards so they’re outside your hands. Take your hands off the floor and straighten up, looking forwards throughout. Lower into a squat, put your hands on the floor and reverse the move back to the start.

4 Squat with oblique crunch

Squat with oblique crunch

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Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Stand with your feet just wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly out. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the sides. Lower, pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push through your heels to rise and as you come to stand, use your oblique muscles on the side of your stomach to lift your right knee and lower your right elbow so they meet. Alternate sides with each rep.

V-sit

V-sit

(Image credit: Unknown)

Time 30sec Rest 15sec

Lie on your back with your arms extended over your head, legs together on the floor. Using your core muscles, lift your head, shoulders and arms, as well as your legs, keeping them as straight as you can. Your aim is to get your hands and feet to meet (don’t worry if you can’t). Then slowly lower back to the start. Repeat, making the movement as slow and steady as you can, for 30 seconds.

Lucy is a freelance journalist, and former health and fitness editor across various UK women’s magazines. She is also a level 3 personal trainer and is trained in pre- and post-natal fitness.