Way back when, your tummy was flat and you assumed it would always stay that way. After all, you pretty much eat “clean” and you exercise every day. Well, most days.
Time has brought you not only wisdom, but a little flab around your belly. Maybe even more than a little. And although you’re otherwise fit, you don’t seem to be able to get rid of it.
Worse than the fat, you realize, is that the muscles behind your tummy are flabby too. Not only does your stomach look poochy, your posture isn’t the best, either.
Core Muscles MultiTask
Your abdominal muscles are responsible for holding your spine erect and your organs in place so that they can function optimally. They work in tandem with other muscles in your core, including the multifidus, which runs along the spine, and your pelvic floor muscles. If your core muscles are weak, you may have trouble balancing, standing up for long periods of time, or suffer from back pain.
You have four sets of abdominal muscles that must be kept strong through regular exercise:
- Rectus abdominis – this “six-pack abs” muscle is the most visible and what most people think of when they think of their abdominals. You use it to move and bend your body between your ribcage and pelvis (crunches, anyone?)
- Transversus abdominis – located deep inside the abdomen, this muscle set stabilizes your trunk.
- External oblique muscles – located on each side of your six-pack abs (aka rectus abdominis), these muscles let you twist and turn.
- Internal oblique muscles – these muscles also flank the rectus abdominis and are located just inside the hipbones. Along with transverse abdominis muscles, they help you do the twist, among other things.
Now that you know how many muscles are in your core and how much they’re responsible for, how do you start to strengthen them? Dr. Julio Garcia, an expert plastic surgeon in Las Vegas who specializes in body contouring and tummy tucks, offers a few pointers on how to build and maintain a strong core.
You don’t have to wait to join a gym, either: These exercises can be done at home without any extra equipment. Be sure to consult with your primary care physician if you haven’t exercised in awhile or have underlying issues, such as osteoporosis or arthritis.
Lie flat on your back, while keeping your legs aligned with your hips. Bend your knees by bringing your feet toward your hips, while still on the floor.
Keeping your back in a neutral position, tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your pelvis off the floor. You should create a straight line between your shoulders and your knees. Hold the position as long as you can. Repeat five times.
Give your rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis muscles a workout by getting into a push-up position: Keep your hands directly under your shoulders, elbows straight, and place your feet hip to shoulder width apart.
Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels. Don’t let your hips start to sag. But also don’t push up in the middle. Once you’re straight (you can check your profile in a mirror), contract your abdominals by bringing your navel toward your spine. Hold the position as long as you can.
This variation on plank strengthens your external and internal obliques. Lie straight on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other. With your elbow under your shoulder, push your hips up until your body is in a straight line. Pull your belly button toward your spine and hold for as long as you can.
Strengthen your back muscles by lying face down and stretching your arms overhead, shoulder width apart. Your feet should also be shoulder or hip width apart. Contract your back muscles to lift your arms and legs off the floor, in the shape of a bow. Hold for about five seconds. Repeat five times.
Lie flat on your back and place your feet on a wall in front of you. Your knees and hips should be at a 90-degree angle. Cross your arms on your chest. Tighten your abdominals to raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Hold for at least three deep breaths, then repeat up to 20 times.
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, about hip width apart. Tighten your abs, then let your knees fall slowly to the left while keeping your shoulders pressed against the floor. Hold for at least three deep breaths. Slowly upright your knees, then let them fall to the right, repeating the process.
Get down on your hands and knees, with your knees hip width’s apart and your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Align your head and neck with your back, so you’re one straight line. Raise your right arm ahead of you and hold for three breaths, then rest. Repeat with your left arm, right leg, and left leg. For added challenge, lift your right arm and left leg at the same time, then repeat on the other side.
Another Way to Flat Tummies
If you’ve already been trying to build your core, but are frustrated by abdominal muscles that have been torn or stretched out from pregnancy or weight gain, you might benefit from a tummy tuck procedure. A tummy tuck does more than make your abdominals look tight and fit. Dr. Garcia actually repairs and tightens your abdominal muscles so they can function normally again. He also liposuctions away excess fat, tightens your skin, and trims away the excess to create a sleeker, stronger abdominal area.
If your abdominals are strong, but you still have tummy fat that doesn’t go away no matter how many planks or crunches you do, Dr. Garcia recommends body contouring with liposuction las vegas or ultrasound assisted lipoplasty. These techniques remove small areas of genetically determined, exercise-resistant fat, such as that found around the abdomen, hips, thighs, trunk, and arm.
To find out if you’d benefit from liposuction las vegas, ultrasound assisted lipoplasty, or a tummy tuck, call us or contact us with the online form.