The idea of a flat stomach is so appealing to us that we’re willing to wear garbage bags and do thousands of crunches if there’s even the smallest chance that it’ll give us the midsection we’ve always wanted.
The bad news is that it takes more than exercise to flatten any stomach. The good news is that exercise combined with eating smaller portions will tone and flatten your stomach. Are you willing to put in the work required for a positive outcome? If so, keep reading for 6 stomach exercises that will give your gut a good workout!
Plenty of exercise gurus have negative things to say about the classic crunch, but when done correctly this is a great way to burn and tone your upper abdominal area.
Lie on your back in the sit up position with your hands crossed on your chest. Bend your knees so they’re in a 90 degree angle, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Exhale as you lift your shoulders off the floor using your stomach muscles as best you can. Inhale as you make your way back down to the floor, lightly touching your shoulders to the floor. Repeat at least 10 repetitions per set.
Remember to keep your abdominal muscles tight throughout your workout and exhale up and inhale down for the most effective way to flatten your stomach.
Start the reverse crunch up by lying on your back on the floor and placing your hands palms down next to your hips. Lift your legs in the air with your feet facing the wall and knees bent. Your legs should be in the basic crunch position, only in the air.
Lower your knees to your chest and raise your butt off the ground, using your abdominal muscles. Keep your stomach muscles tight as you complete each rep of the reverse crunch up. Breathe out as you lower your knees and breathe in as you return to starting position. Protect your back during the reverse crunch up by NOT swinging your legs. The point of this exercise is to work your stomach muscles, not your legs.
For best results do 3 to 4 sets of 20 repetitions. With the right diet, your lower abs could be ready for beach season before sweater season is over!
Oblique Crunch Up
If you’re tired of those hellish love handles making it difficult to wear fitted clothes or if you’d like to slouch without belly rolls, you could use a few reps of the oblique crunch ups. Working on your obliques will help shed a few inches around the midsection, something I’m sure we could all use.
Start in the Basic Crunch position on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Place your left ankle across your right knee and place left hand next to your hip while you place your left hand on the side of your head. Using your stomach muscles lift and twist your body up until your right elbow is nearly touching your left knee. Exhale on your way up and inhale as you lower your shoulders back to the floor.
Do a minimum of 3 sets of oblique crunch ups, resting in between. Your athletic ability and how much flattening your stomach requires will determine how many reps you perform. Each set should be a minimum of 15 repetitions and as many as 30. Push yourself to reach your exercise goals, but listen when your body is in pain.
The bicycle is both my favorite and most hated flat stomach exercise. It’s my favorite because it works well and probably more important, I feel like I’m getting a good tummy workout. I hate it because its so effective and sometimes difficult that it makes me feel like a legless pig struggling for stability! Luckily for me (and you) the only thing that matters is that IT WORKS!
Begin the bicycle with your back flat on the floor and your hands behind your head for support. Your legs will be slightly bent in the air so they can perform the bicycle pedaling movements. Straighten your right leg out to a 45-degree angle, at the same time turn your upper body so that the left elbow is attempting to touch the right knee. Return to starting position and perform the same moves on the other side.
[Performing the bicycle correctly is essential for a flat tummy not to mention avoiding back injuries!]
When your elbow moves toward your knee you should be exhaling. In between that movement you should inhale. Do 3 sets of the bicycle, performing 20 repetitions so that you work out each side evenly.
That’s right, in order to properly flatten your stomach you need to have both strength training as well as aerobic exercise. The stomach exercises above will help tone and tighten your ab muscles, but what about the extra fat covering up that hidden six-pack?
That’s where aerobic exercise comes in. It is impossible to get a flat stomach without a regular dose of cardo exercise and that’s just something we all have to learn and accept. Cardio helps your body burn calories and fat over every inch of your body, belly included. No matter how many reps of flat stomach exercises you do will make a difference if you choose to skip the fat burning stage in the weight loss process.
If your body isn’t quite ready for a 30 minute run, consider a rigorous walk or lengthy bike ride. Pick your aerobic poison and start melting away the fat that’s shielding your hard-earned belly from the spotlight. Get the flat stomach you want by running or walking on the treadmill, elliptical machines, or exercise bikes. Go dancing or tighten your tummy by doing laps at the local pool. Whatever your exercise routine, don’t forget the importance of cardio to achieving a flatter stomach.
Ok so stretching isn’t exactly an exercise, but it is an essential part of any exercise regimen. Stretching helps warm up your muscles prior to exercise to prevent muscle strains, sprains, tears as well as back injuries. In addition, stretching helps improve flexibility which helps you perform your exercises correctly and improves sexual performance. Stretching also improves the blood and nutrient supply to muscles, which decreases muscle soreness after a gruesome workout.
Aside from doing all those things, you’ll be happy to know that stretching for about 10 minutes burns 27 calories. Not much to write home about I know, but you get all those benefits PLUS you burn an additional 27 calories! Over the course of a year of regular physical activity you could burn nearly 3 pounds of fat by stretching. Imagine losing 3 pounds of belly fat just from stretching!
Think of stretching as an added benefit to your fitness routine. You can improve flexibility and avoid injury while burning a little bit more. More than that however, stretching is crucial to weight loss of any kind because it allows you to keep your body in the condition that allows you to keep exercising for weight loss.