The secret to flattering abs is good posture and focusing on those muscles while you exercise. By contracting the abdominal muscles, pointing the tailbone towards the floor and keeping your shoulders back and your head balanced on your neck (not leaning forward), you can look and feel taller and slimmer before you’ve counted one sit-up. Ab exercises should target the rectus abdominus (the muscle extending the length of the front of the abdomen) and the internal and external obliques (the muscles extending along the sides of the abdomen at an angle).
1. Ab Crunches (for upper abdominals)
Lie on your back with hands crossed over chest. With feet and hips on the floor, bend knees toward chest. To begin the exercise, lift torso slowly, elevating shoulder blades and moving ribs towards hips, crunching rib cage toward pelvis. Hold for two counts and lower to the starting position. Repeat.
2. Reverse Curl (for lower abdominals)
Begin in the same starting position used for the crunches. Contract abdominal muscles to lift hips off the floor; bring knees toward chest. Concentrate on using abs to lift pelvis toward lower rib cage. Hold for two counts and move hips back to the floor. Repeat.
3. Diagonal Crunches (for oblique muscles)
Begin in the same starting position used for the crunches. Raise shoulders, moving one shoulder (one side of chest) toward the opposite knee. Hold for two counts. Return shoulder to the floor and repeat. Switch sides. (Do not touch elbow to knee.)
For each exercise, aim for one to three sets of 10 to 20 repetitions, and rest for one minute between sets.