Want a flatter looking stomach? A strong back with good core support? Then this Total Gym workout is for you! The secrets to a flatter stomach lie not only in your posture and how you recruit your core muscles, but also cardio and your diet. This post will focus on exercises to help you strengthen and tone your midsection.
Start with awareness of your posture in sitting, standing and lying down. Tell yourself to sit tall and notice what you do. Do you stick your lower ribs out or do you lengthen your spine? Ideally you want to think of a string pulling you upward from the top of your head. Next, focus on your pelvic/hip position. Put the heel of your hands on your hip bones and index fingers toward your pubic bone and form a triangle with your fingers. If you tuck your hips under, then the fingertips point up toward the sky. If you push your buttocks backward, then your fingertips move downward. “Neutral position” is where the heel of your hands and your index fingers lie in one plane. The next step is to activate your core in this position. Core will refer to the pelvic floor, lower belly and lengthening of the spine while breathing. To activate the pelvic floor, gently tighten the muscles which stop the flow of urine and passing gas. To tighten the belly, focus on the area between your hips, i.e. bikini line. Draw your belly button inward toward your spine. Avoid pulling the belly button upward or pushing outward. If you do this, stop tightening so hard. Lastly, continuously feel like you are lengthening the spine, which can help activate the deep lower back muscles. The goal of the below exercises is to keep a neutral spinal position while tightening the core. I tell people in the beginning you may have to keep the core super tight, but as you learn the exercises, try to figure out how little you can activate the core while performing the exercises in good form.
The below series are organized by body position and accessory. Lower intensities like level 3-5 are recommended until the technique is mastered. Set a timer and do each movement for 30-45 seconds. You can repeat a series of exercises in a position for one set and move onto the next body position or you can pick and choose which body positions to use and just do 1-3 sets.
Lying Down with Cables
In this position, focus on the ribs sliding onto the glideboard, keeping neutral position, and breathing throughout the movement. Progression can be from feet down, feet on table top, feet to the sky and feet reaching diagonally.
- Pullover butterfly leg (keep your feet together with knees apart)
- Marching/Toe taps with arm pulley (arms can be reaching upwards, alternating single arm pullover, or triceps press)
- Diagonal Pullovers (any foot position you want)
- Cardio pull can be done to increase heart rate and at a lower level, training the core for a more progressive exercise like plyometrics without a cable.
- Torso Rotation. Perform on a lower intensity and really focus on keeping your spine straight. There is a tendency to tuck the hips under and enter into a slouched position.
Inverted Facing the Tower or Supine Facing the Squat Stand
- Inverted bicycle
- Inverted scissor
- Inverted hip hinge to lift
Bodyweight and Plyometrics
Plyometric jumps with squat stand
- Alternating jumps with varying movements of Leg Bicycles or Scissor Kicks
- Bilateral jumps, Tucks, Rotational tucks
Side Lying With or Without Squat Stand
- Lateral flexion
- Lateral flexion with rotation
- Side Plank
Standing Facing Toward or Facing Away From Tower
Straight up and down