Be it a toned, flat stomach or a full-fledged six-pack, most exercisers care about their midsections. You can do specific exercises for this area, or you can work your stomach indirectly; in many cases, combining both approaches works best. Remember, your stomach is just another muscle group and should be treated as such. Don't fall for the myth of high reps and light weights for spot reduction; rather, use moderately heavy weights to strengthen and tone your abs. Combined with a sound diet, this is the best way to tighten your stomach.
The waiter's walk targets your stomach and also your oblique or waist muscles. In addition, it increases shoulder stability and provides a low-level cardio and leg workout. To perform this exercise, raise and hold a dumbbell or kettlebell above your head using one arm. Keep your abs braced and your torso perfectly vertical when performing this exercise. Once you are balanced, walk around your training area keeping your arm perfectly vertical. Walk for distance or time as preferred. Upon completion, carefully lower your weight and repeat using the opposite arm.
Dumbbell Dead Bugs
Dumbbell dead bugs are a variation on a Pilates exercise that teaches you to keep your abs braced tightly. Adding dumbbells significantly increases the difficulty of this exercise. Start off with light weights, and progress to heavier weights only when you have perfected your technique. Lie on your back with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your legs to 90 degrees and raise them so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Extend your arms straight up toward the ceiling, and hold the weights over your shoulders. Lower your left arm back over your head and extend your right leg. Both limbs should stop just short of touching the floor. Keep your abs tightly braced and your lower back very slightly arched. Return to the start position and repeat the exercise using your opposite limbs. Continue alternating arms and legs until you have completed six to 12 repetitions on each side. Stop your set if your lower back begins to lift off the floor excessively.
Seated Russian Twists
The Russian twist is a effective stomach and waist exercise that requires only one dumbbell. You also can perform it using a medicine ball, single weight plate or any other similarly weighted object.
Sit on the floor with your legs bent and feet flat. Sit up so your torso is inclined to about 45 degrees. With the weight in your hands, extend your arms out in front of you at shoulder height. Keeping your arms straight, rotate your upper body as far to the left as you can and then back and all the way to the right. Try to rotate your upper body through around 180 degrees of movement. This constitutes one repetition per side. Do not alter the angle of your torso, and continue turning your upper body until you have completed six to 12 repetitions. If you find balance is an issue, anchor your feet by placing the toes against the base of a wall or underneath a weighted barbell.
Suitcase Dead Lift
The suitcase dead lift works your abdominal muscles indirectly. They must work hard to ensure your torso remains vertical while you work your legs, butt and lower back. Place a dumbbell or kettlebell on the floor next to you. With your feet shoulder-width apart, squat down and grasp the weight with one hand. Keep your chest up and your lower back tightly arched. Brace your core, and keeping your arm straight, stand up. Make sure you do not lean to the side; use a mirror to check your posture. Lower the weight back to the floor and repeat. Inhale as you raise the weight and exhale as you lower it. On completion, change sides and repeat. Do not allow your lower back to round as this can lead to injury.