You might not know that the actions of your stomach muscles and your hips are closely related. Your abdominal muscles help to pull your ribcage and your lower pelvis toward each other, and your hips are part of your pelvis. Both areas should be exercised during your workout. You can save yourself time by performing exercises that tone your stomach and your hips simultaneously.
Decline Bench Sit-Ups
The decline bench sit-ups are more effective than normal sit-ups because the decline makes the exercise harder. Also, in a decline sit-up, your thighs are aligned with your torso, therefore working your hips more than a normal sit-up would. Lie down on a decline bench and sit up until your body is vertical. When you lay back down, don't let your shoulders touch the bench. Keep your shoulders round, not flat, to help protect your lower back and maintain a steady contraction in your stomach muscles.
For an easier workout, lay the bench flatter. For a tougher, more intense workout, make the bench steeper and hold a dumbbell in your hands against your chest. Perform 10 to 30 repetitions.
Incline Leg Raises
This exercise is best performed on a slanted bench with a padded bar at the top of the incline. This will make the exercise harder and more effective, while ensuring that your abdominal muscles are working against the natural resistance at the top of the bench as it slopes down. Incline leg raises tone both your hips and your stomach in one exercise.
Start by lying flat with your head at the top of the incline and your feet at the bottom. Hold onto the bar by your head and lift your legs up until your lower back is off the bench. Keep your legs straight with your knees slightly bent, and slowly lower them until they are parallel to the floor. Finish by raising them back up until the small of your back and your hips are off the mat and your legs are perpendicular to the floor. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions.
Although this exercise is typically one of the more difficult abdominal exercises, it is also one of the most effective. Lie flat on a mat with your arms straight above your head. Hold an inflatable, plastic ball or a medicine ball. Lift only your head, shoulders and neck and place the ball between your knees in one motion. Do not arch your back or reach with your arms. Use your stomach muscles to pull yourself up. Once the ball is between your legs, lower them slowly and move your arms back until you are in the position you started in, this time with the ball between your legs instead of in your hands. Repeat the motion but take the ball from between your legs, and end the exercise with it back in your hands. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions.
The side jackknife targets not only your obliques--side abdominal muscles--but also your hips. Working these will ensure a more slender, toned waist, for a more athletic look.
Lie flat on your side on a mat. Place your top hand behind your head and your feet on top of each other. Lift your top leg up and perform a crunch with your torso at the same time. Slowly lower your leg and return to the position you started in. If you want to make the exercise more effective and difficult, try using ankle weights. Perform 10 to 20 repetitions, allowing ample rest time between sets.