Toned abs are not difficult to achieve, even for fitness novices. All you need is a few minutes a day, a willingness to sweat, and this article.

Below you will find the basic information you need to follow a smart ab workout instead of a hard one. Learn how to target all the major muscle areas, the keys to efficient strength training, and the ideal exercise schedule for gaining impressively toned abs.

An Introduction to the Abdominal Muscle Group

There are three basic muscle areas that make up the abdominal region, and to get toned abs you’ll need to work them all. Your upper abs, your lower abs, and your obliques.

Your upper abs sit above your navel, and are used to lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground when you do a basic crunch or sit-up. Your lower abs stretch below your navel, and are key in providing you with the strength you need to support your back and spine. You use your lower abs in reverse crunches, or in any other exercise where you lie on your back and lift your legs off the floor.

Your oblique muscles, which run across your sides, bear the brunt of the work when you twist your torso. The obliques are crucial to toned abs, and working them often provides the fastest visible results because the firmer your obliques are, the slimmer your waistline will appear to be.

How To Work Your Muscles

To get the maximum benefit from strength-building exercises, you should start with a warm-up that will get your heart pumping. By getting more blood to your muscles with an aerobic warm-up, you are lessening your chances of injury. Spend two to three minutes walking briskly, jogging in place, or even dancing to your favorite song.

Once you’re warm, work your targeted muscles slowly and carefully, focusing on form rather than speed. When it comes to getting toned abs, it is more work for your muscles if you do three perfect situps than five sloppy ones, so make sure you’re going for quality over quantity.

When you’ve finished your workout, cool down with a total body stretch. This will not only help your muscles prepare to rebuild stronger and healthier cells, it will send a rush of endorphins through your system that make you feel great. This natural high at the end of your workout will help you associate feeling good with exercising, and will help you stay motivated as you strive to achieve toned abs.

Avoiding Overwork

Between workouts, your muscles need time to rebuild after the damage they receive during exercise. Working the same muscles two days in a row will do more harm than good, and will likely slow your progress toward toned abs. This is why the best way to get the stomach you’ve always wanted is to rotate which muscles you work every day.

Spend one day working on your upper abs, then a day on your lower abs, then a day on your obliques. Repeat this three day sequence until you’ve got the toned abs you’ve always wanted. If you follow it diligently, you’ll start to feel results as you build strength and endurance after only a few weeks.

Alternating what you work each day will give your muscles enough time to recuperate between workouts, ensuring that you get the most possible benefit. Plus, working one muscle area at a time means shorter workouts that are easier to fit into your daily schedule, so you can say goodbye to struggling to find time to exercise, and hello to toned abs!