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Tighten your abdominal muscles before bending back into a camel stretch.
Your body's core area include muscles that stretch throughout your torso. These include superficial muscles, such as the rectus abdominus and external obliques, as well as deeper muscles, such as the transversus abdominus and internal obliques, according to the "Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy." Strong stomach muscles are not only aesthetically appealing, but they keep you safer when participating in other sports or completing daily activities because they create stability and balance. Holding certain stretches can help you tighten stomach muscles because the muscles will activate in order to maintain the stretch.
Get the Ball Rolling
Tighten your stomach by sitting on the floor with a small inflatable ball, or a firm pillow, behind your waist. You'll need to use abdominal muscle engagement to control the rolling motion, which will activate the external abdominal obliques, located along the side of your abdomen, as well as the rectus abdominis, located along the front of your abs. Bend your knees to press your feet firmly into the floor. Place your right hand behind your right thigh and your left hand behind your head. Exhale, stretching across the inflatable ball while raising your right leg toward the ceiling and keeping your stomach muscles engaged. Then, slowly roll back into your original position. Repeat this stretch 12 to 16 times, and then switch to stretch the other side.
Take A Different Angle
Begin the stomach-tightening single-leg stretch for abs by lying on your back with your legs bent to 90 degrees. Your shins should be parallel to the floor and your toes pointing toward the ceiling. The motion of lifting your head and shoulders from the floor will activate your rectus abdominis. Meanwhile, straighten your right knee so that your leg extends at a 45-degree angle to the floor, activating the hard-to-target transverse abdominis. Stretch your right arm across your body, past your left knee, and press your right hand into the outside of your left shin. Switch legs and stretch the other side, completing 10 repetitions for each leg.
Core on the Floor
To start the core-tightening Cobra stretch and Up Dog stretch, lie on your stomach with your legs extended straight behind you on the floor, according to Fit Sugar. The core engagement in this pose will target your rectus abdominis. Place your palms directly beneath your shoulders, press your thighs together and engage your abdominal muscles. Exhale, and then inhale to lift your head, shoulders and torso while pressing your hips into the floor. Press lightly with your palms, so that most of the uplifting motion comes from abdominal strength, not arm strength. To transition into upward facing dog and still work your stomach muscles, push your weight into your toes, lift your legs from the ground and draw your shoulders higher. This stretch creates extra work for your abs since you're working against gravity.
Strong Like a Camel
Yoga's Camel pose is a challenging stretch to tighten stomach muscles. Correctly executed, it will involve not only your rectus abdominis but also the transverse abdominis and external abdominal obliques. Fit Sugar states that you will begin on your knees, with your shins and toes pressing into the floor. Inhale to stretch through your spine and activate your abs, press your hips forward, and bend through your back to begin reaching for your feet with your hands. Keep your neck in neutral position throughout the stretch.