The first thing you need to know about toning your abs is that there is more than just one set of abdominal muscles that need to be worked on. In fact there are three, and each of them require equal amounts of attention or your entire workout plan can be rendered ineffective. The three muscle groups you need to concentrate are your rectus abdominis, your obliques and your transverse abdominus.
The rectus abdominis is the muscle group that is most commonly associated with the “six pack” although it is not the only one responsible for ripped abs. We’ll get to this part of toning your abs later, but first you need to concentrate on your transverse abdominis. This is the muscle that runs underneath your rectus abdominis and wraps around the lower part of your rib cage. Apart from protecting your internal organs, this muscle is responsible for both your core strength and your core stability.
This part of toning your abs is the most difficult, but is the most essential part of having a well developed abdomen. Doing deep breath-and-release exercises or water exercises are both good ways of developing your core abdominal muscles. Deep breathing exercises like the Vacuum are done by filling your lungs to capacity, then breathing out while sucking your stomach in. Hold at the point where you feel your muscles tighten for two to three seconds, then release. Do sets of eight if you can, and do them every day!
Training your obliques is something that a lot of people neglect, but they are one of the most important muscle groups if you are toning your abs to look good. Men’s Health Magazine asked women all over the world what the sexiest muscles on a man were, and the obliques came out top almost all over the world. To tone these muscles simply do bicycle twist crunches. Lie on your back in sit up position, clasping your hands behind your head. Bring one knee up to your chest, and contract your stomach muscles to lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Point your left elbow at your right knee, then do it the other way. Try to do six on each side per set if you are looking to lose weight.
When you are toning your abs, the rectus abdominus muscles are actually the easiest to work with. Performing three sets of the double vertical leg lift will give these muscles definition within a few weeks. Lie on your back and lift your legs 90 degrees to the ground. Cross your ankles, and clasp your hands behind your head. Now contract your stomach muscles to both lift your feet towards the ceiling and your shoulder blades off the ground. You should feel it start to burn all over your abdominal region.