I firmly believe that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. How thin you are is less important than your overall exercise and eating habits. That being said, I understand how frustrating it is to feel as though you’re doing everything right but not quite seeing the results that you want. There was a period of time when I was pretty healthy, but my waistline wasn’t as trim as I wanted, and no amount of exercise seemed to help. What I didn’t realize was that I just needed to add a few new moves. So, from my experience, here are the best exercises to tighten your core – no sit ups required! As with all exercise routines, please consult a doctor before doing any of these.
The Stomach Vacuum
No, this isn’t some weird contraption you’ve seen on late-night tv. It’s a breathing exercise that targets your transverse abdomini muscles – those are the deep ones under your “six pack” and obliques. It will help your posture and pull in your tummy muscles to make it look flatter. Some people call them “corset muscles” – I feel as though when I do this exercise regularly, my waist gets cinched in the same way it does in a corset. You can do this exercise standing, lying on your back, or even on all fours (which is how I do it). For a beginner, I recommend standing first. Also, if you are prone to fainting or have any respiratory issues, please use caution.
- Breathe normally for a few beats and then exhale all air out of your lungs
- Pull your stomach in taught from your bellybutton and hold it
- Hold your breath as long as you can (I try to count to 10)
- Return your breathing to normal and repeat when you are ready
- Do as many reps as you feel comfortable doing (I aim for at least four)
Not be confused with the internet craze from a few years ago, planks are a great exercise for stomach muscles. I once read that the reason for that is because they still mimic a normal human body position (ie standing up). You may have to work up doing the side planks, but I’ve found they’re great for tightening my obliques. You can start doing each of these different plank positions for as long as you can, as many times as you feel comfortable. I usually don’t do many – I just try to hold each position as long as possible. I recommend using a yoga mat or some other surface that is softer than hard flooring.
- Position your body as though you’re about to do a push-up
- Place your hands on the ground underneath your shoulders
- Push your toes into the floor and squeeze your glutes to keep you stable while keeping your knees soft
- Keep your head in line with your back and look at a spot on the floor about a foot in front of you
- Continue breathing and hold the position for as long as you can
- When you feel comfortable, put one hand under your face and pull the other off the ground and raise it above you
- Turn your body sideways, making a “T” shape with your arms and body
- Continue breathing and hold the position for as long as you can, repeating on the other side
Watch Your Posture
It sounds like advice our moms would give us, but it’s true – standing up straight makes you look thinner. I found this out back when I gave Whole30 a try. They recommend that you take a “before” photo of yourself, one from the front and one from the side. I always knew I had a tendency to jut my hips out a bit, but I really had no idea how bad it was until I saw that side view photo. Woah! My hips were WAY out in front! Since then, I take the time to notice my posture and correct it when needed. It makes me look five pounds lighter. I also pay attention to my posture when I’m sitting. Keeping my butt pushed back just a slight bit actually helps me keep proper posture when I’m sitting and working.
So, there you have it! Three tips to help cinch your waist – no crunches necessary! While you’re at it, watch your intake of sugary, salty, and fried foods. And don’t forget to love yourself, even if your waist isn’t the size you want it to be.