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Have you noticed your waist getting bigger after doing ab exercises? That’s because ab exercises strengthen your core, including your obliques!
What are obliques, you ask?
Your obliques are the muscles located on the sides of your core. Over-toning these will cause your waist to form a square shape.
Core exercises that favor one side (especially weighted), or involve rotation will tone your obliques at a quicker rate.
You may find that 11 line abs and a tiny waist is more challenging to achieve than celebrities and Instagram models make it look.
Nevertheless, you can still tone your abs and maintain a small waist.
Toning your core alone won’t slim your waist or shed belly fat; you need to diet and perform cardio as well.
Here’s a list of common core exercises that you should avoid if you want a slim waist:
- Russian twist
- Side bends (both weighted and non-weighted)
- Side plank
- Side crunch
- Hip dip
Here are some core exercises to do instead:
Planks are one of the most effective ab exercises, and they don’t work your obliques as much as others.
Forearm (or low) planks are better than high planks when working your abdominal muscles.
Avoid side planks and hip dips that will actually bulk up your waist over time.
The bicycle crunches are proven to be the most effective core exercise, according to several recent studies .
Bicycle crunches work your obliques more so than other exercises such as planks, but less than exercises like Russian twists, so do this exercise sparingly.
However, if you perform this exercise incorrectly, it can cause neck pain, so follow these instructions carefully.
- Lay on your back and place your hands on the back of your head.
- Space out your legs, bend your knees, and keep your feet flat on the floor or mat.
- Lift your shoulder blades off of the floor just a hair, so they’re no longer touching the floor.
- Lift your left leg to a 45 degree angle, and bend your right leg, bringing it to your chest.
- Bring your left elbow to your right knee until they touch (be sure that you’re rotating your core, not just moving your elbows).
- Now, extend your right leg and bend your left.
- Once again, bring your right elbow to meet your left knee.
- Now, you’ve completed one rep! Repeat this for 45 seconds if you can.
Stomach vacuums: the viral exercise said to tone your abs!
There are several different ways that they can be performed. I reckon it’s more of a personal preference!
Here’s a list of different variations of stomach vacuums:
- Standing stomach vacuum (my personal favorite)
- Sitting stomach vacuum
- Stomach vacuum twists
- Stomach vacuum on all fours
- Leaning stomach vacuum
This exercise is perfectly safe and effective if done correctly. Here's an awesome step-by-step guide that you may find helpful.
Balance Ball Crunches
Did you know that crunches done with a balance ball are 24-38% more effective than crunches without? Sweet, right? Yeah, I thought so.
Balance ball crunches can be difficult for people like me, who have a terrible sense of balance. If you’re like me, don’t fret! I’m an awesome person. I'm kidding. But yes, if you’re like me in the fact that you find balancing on a rubber ball to be difficult, you can skip this exercise and focus on the others.
Don’t over do it, ladies! Over-toning your core will square your obliques.
I challenge you to do this workout with me! Will you?
Just remember whatever you do, be confident in your own skin! You are beautiful just the way you are!
Boldt, Andrea, “How Can You Avoid Getting Square Obliques,” Livestrong, 30 Jan 2018
Cameron, Mary Jo, “How to Do Ab Crunches on a Balance Ball,” Gaiam,
https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discove...nd that crunches,crunches done without a ball.
Davidson, Katey, “The Stomach Vacuum Exercise: How To Do It Right,” Healthline, 24 March 2022
Edmonds, Melissa, “The Ab Exercise Women Shouldn’t Do,” Bodybuilding, 16 March 2021
Kelly, Erin, “Plank Exercise Benefits: Why You Should Work Your Core,” Healthline, 29 May 2020
Mayle, William, “Science Says This Abs Exercise Is the Single Best You Can Do,” Eat This, 7 May 2021
Romine, Stepfanie, “How to Do a Bicycle Crunch: Tips, Benefits, and Mistakes to Avoid,” Greatist, 23 June 2020
https://greatist.com/health/bicycle...floor, with knees bent,side to complete 1 rep.
Watson, Kathryn, “How to Reduce Waist Size: Eating Healthy and Exercise,” Healthline, 27 Nov 2018