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Since I can remember, I've always been a little obsessed with the stomach. I got a headache that I would have such a nice "radiator", but my dreams are over, because I am not able to achieve such an effect when exercising at home! Even "crunches" (twice a day) give nothing. The worst part is that the upper belly is fine, but the lower belly… I don't know how I should exercise to make the bottom of my belly as small as the top. I also have small limitations because I have a slight curvature of my spine and doing some exercises is painful. Maybe you have some nice advice for me?

Ewelino, answering your question about how to get a flat, beautiful abdomen and effective exercises to strengthen and sculpt muscles, I suggest you a program based on aerobic exercises, i.e. fat burning, strengthening exercises and proper nutrition. A protruding belly may be inherited, it may be due to poor posture, hormonal imbalance, a recent pregnancy, weak abdominal muscles, accumulated fat, or a combination of these factors. Regardless of the cause of its creation, however, it is worth trying to keep it as low as possible. The most important in the fight for a beautiful belly are systematic exercises to strengthen muscles, burn fat and a properly balanced diet. Without a combination of all these factors, it will be difficult to achieve the dream goal of improving our appearance. There are many regulations or so-called training regimens that allow you to work on shaping a nice figure around the tummy and waist. The program I propose is a combination of aerobic training, i.e. training that burns fat tissue, with strengthening exercises. Increased amount of adipose tissue, which is often the result of the accumulation of excess calories with insufficient physical activity, is evenly distributed throughout our body or accumulates in one place in the form of the so-called "tire" around or below the waist. In order to get rid of these fat stores and expose the abdominal muscles that are painstakingly carved during exercise, aerobic training is needed at a moderate pace, systematically 3-5 times a week for at least 40-60 minutes. This can be cycling, brisk walking in the field, training on a stepper or treadmill, inline skating or swimming. The important thing is toperform it at the intensity that is appropriate for you, optimal for fat burning. Intensity is best determined based on maximum heart rate, which is the highest heart rate at which our heart can work during maximum exertion in one minute. The easiest way to estimate them is: 220 - minus age for men and 226 - minus age for women. The value we got is our maximum heart rate. It has been assumed that the optimal training intensity to burn fat and develop endurance is within the heart rate range from 65% to 85% of the maximum heart rate. So, calculating 65% and 85% of our maximum heart rate value, we get the range of heart rate values ​​in which we should fall during our training. For example, a 30-year-old man has a maximum heart rate of 190 beats per minute, and the heart rate range suitable for fat burning ranges between: 190x65%=123 and 190x85%=161. Exercise heart rate can be controlled by palpation, i.e. by placing your fingers on into the carotid artery or with a heart rate monitor. Afterwards, it's a good idea to do some stretching exercises and move on to some strengthening exercises. Beginners can perform 8-10 repetitions of each of the exercises presented, intermediate ones can perform 10-16 repetitions, and advanced ones can perform 16-20 repetitions. If you feel up to it, you can increase the number of repetitions until your abdominal muscles fatigue, which is a slight burning sensation of the muscles. Perform all exercises in 2-3 series, resting for about 30-40 seconds between them. The exercises I suggest involve both the straight muscles and the oblique abdominal muscles. They can be performed with a small ball to increase efficiency. Exercise 1 Raising the torso and hips with the ball pressed between the legs. Lie on your back, lift both legs straight and squeeze the ball between your feet. Fold your bent arms behind your head and open your elbows outwards. Contract your abs, lift your hips and chest off the floor, hold it for a few seconds, and then come back to the starting position. Exercise 2 Raising the torso to the straight leg Lie on your back, bend your knees, put your feet on the floor. Raise your right calf, straighten your right leg, and position it so that your thighs are parallel to each other. Squeeze the ball between your knees. Rest your hands on the back of your head without pressing down on it. Raise your head, shoulders, and chest off the floor and return to the starting position. Exercise 3 Twists of the torso with raised legs While lying on your back, bring your bent arms behind your head, bend your legs at right angles and lift them off the floor. Squeeze the ball between your knees. Raise your shoulders off the floor andturn your torso to the right, bringing your elbow to your knees. Return to the starting position and repeat the exercise to the other side. Exercise 4 Raising the body while lying on your side Lie down on your side. Bend your upper arm at the elbow and place it behind your head, and place the lower arm perpendicularly in front of you. Place the lower leg on the ball and lift the upper leg slightly off the floor. Raise your upper body toward your extended leg, flexing your oblique muscles and keeping your balance on the ball. Exercise 5 Simultaneous lowering of the torso and bent leg While lying on the back, lift both legs bent at the knees. Squeeze the ball with your hands and on your outstretched arms above your chest. Raise your chest off the floor by flexing your abs, lower your torso and right leg towards the floor. Repeat the exercises for the other leg. Exercise 6 Twists of the raised torso Lie on your back, bent legs on the floor, squeezing the ball between your knees. Raise your torso off the floor as you flex your abs. Turn your torso right, lift it up and turn left. Repeat the exercise as many times as you want without lowering your chest to the floor. Exercise 7 Lowering straight legs Lying on your back, raise both legs straight up and squeeze the ball between your feet. Fold your bent arms behind your head and lift your torso off the floor. Slightly bend the straightened legs towards the floor, keeping the lumbar spine glued to the floor. Exercise 8 Tightening the abdominal muscles while sitting supported. Sitting on the support, bend your legs at the knees and squeeze the ball between your feet. Bring your knees up to your chest and return to the starting position. Proper nutrition is no less important than regular exercise. In your diet, try to reduce the amount of carbohydrates in the form of sugar, sweets, cakes, wheat flour, white bread, pasta, fruit and fruit juices and fats. However, the amount of products containing dietary fiber should be increased, i.e. coarse-grained bread, groats, dark pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, raw vegetables. The source of protein should be mostly cooked or grilled lean meat or fish. It is also important to eat small amounts 4-5 times a day so that the interval between meals does not exceed 3 hours. It would also be worth setting the same time of eating and providing the body with 6-8 glasses of lukewarm, non-carbonated water every day. People who previously had nothing to do with exercise may have difficulty adjusting to exercise. The use of passive abdominal exercises can help. They consist of passing small electrical impulses through electrodes placed on the skin of the abdomenor on moving along with the movement of special devices. Later, however, it is better to exercise on your own. In the fight for a nice tummy, treatments in beauty salons offering fat reduction and helping to restore the lymphatic system with body treatments and massages can also be helpful. The more comprehensively we work, using a systematic and long-term combination of a well-composed diet, exercise and cosmetic procedures, the greater the chance of success and restoration of a youthful figure.

Remember that our expert's answer is informative and will not replace a visit to the doctor.

Joanna Barcikowska

Graduate of the University of Physical Education in Gdańsk, instructor of physical recreation, pilates and pilates reformer, trainer of the Warsaw Sports Academy and Thera-Band Academy, co-author of ReebokBalancePilates and Reebok Spine programs. Author of many articles on fitness, participant of television programs and promoter of pro-he alth forms of fitness.

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