Very well done to date with your weight loss – that is a fantastic achievement. With the long-term process of weight loss, the body can go through different phases of proportion as the body isn't selective in which body fat stores it takes from. Research is showing that although you can tone specific areas of the body, the mobilisation of body fat stores is not as straight forward. The best solution will be to continue achieving weight loss through nutrition and exercise, together with toning exercises to target the muscles around the stomach area as these areas tone with training, it helps to encourage usage of the body fat stores.
The Concept 2 Rower is a fantastic piece of cardio equipment as it uses every muscle in the body, thus very effective for calorie burning and weight loss. The fact that your arms and chest have slimmed down to a desired level says to me that maybe it’s time to try some different forms of exercise, for example jogging/running and core training.
Running is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise and has many benefits associated with it. Due to the fact that you are upright (as opposed to sitting on the rowing machine), your core will have a higher level of activation and you will work your tummy muscles even more. If you are not use to running then it is imperative that you start off slow to allow your body to cope with the new stresses and to adapt and improve. You may already be a confident runner, but if not here are some guidelines. Initially, I would suggest you focus on building up your endurance. You are already approaching it in the right way but try a slightly more friendly structure for your lungs……try 3 minutes of walking then 1 minute of jogging at a slow pace and repeat this cycle for as long as you are able to manage.
Core exercises are a great way to tone up the tummy muscles so that as the fat comes off you have more definition. If you are a member of a gym it would be a good idea to get one of the Fitness Instructors to go through some exercises with you and check your technique, but assuming you aren’t at a gym-here are some guidelines and exercises to follow that you can easily perform at home.
To target the midriff, you need to target all the muscles that make up the core, i.e. Rectus abdominals (six pack muscles), transverse abdominals (deep muscles that wrap around the spine like a corset) and the internal and external Obliques (the side muscles!). This requires fatiguing the muscles consistently and in different ways so a structured abdominal program done every other day would, be a very effective plan. Look to do different types of stomach exercises in a circuit-type fashion to help tire out and in turn tone the stomach (core) muscles. Below is an example of a possible abdominal program that targets all the muscles that make up the core:
Floor crunches: simply have the feet flat on the floor, draw the tummy muscles in and lift the upper body up towards the ceiling, hold for 1 second and then lower under control. Do up to 20 repetitions, although you are looking to fatigue before then so concentrate on slow, quality movements. At the top of each crunch movement, (which wouldn't be a big movement and would not involve your lower back leaving the floor) pause and hold for 1 second while trying to consciously squeeze your abdominal muscles. The most important thing about this exercise is not the repetitions but that you REALLY feel the muscles waking up, working and tiring out!
Oblique crunches: same as above but as you lift the body upwards (with hands at ears) take one elbow towards the opposite knee. This will provide a small twist motion. Alternate sides and again look to do a maximum of 20 repetitions.
Bicycle crunches: feet off the floor with this one. The elbow comes across the body while the opposite knee comes in to meet in the middle, so you are essentially crunching across the body. Then slowly control on the way down and bring the other elbow and opposing knee into the middle. Aim NOT to let your legs drift out away from the body too much as it can encourage the lower back to get involved and help out.
See if you can manage the 3 exercises above in a circuit-type fashion, so done with minimal (if any) rest between them. This should really allow you to feel the burn in your stomach muscles if you keep strict technique and concentration on the muscles throughout the movements. The key to effective abdominal training is to activate the abdominals and keep them working throughout each rep and set, preventing other muscles from taking over and dissipating the overload and toning benefit. Look to do the drawing in manoeuvre (see below) throughout every abdominal exercise movement.
The abdominals should only rest at the end of each set! Drawing in manoeuvre: take a breath in and as you do, draw your belly button in towards spine. You should feel a tension develop in your midriff (like you have put a belt on!). As you breathe out, keep your belly button drawn towards your spine and then breathe normally. Just keep this feeling of tension in your tummy as you perform every abdominal exercise rep
I hope this helps