The 5 best exercises for a flat stomach
How many of you want that?
We always want to know how to flatten our stomach (especially women) and get lines that look sexy.
Spot reduction doesn’t work though (for those of you who don’t know what this is, the theory is that it burns fat around the muscles you’re working out, for example it burns arm fat with a bicep curl and lower body fat of the leg with a calf raise, unfortunately this doesn’t work) there are things you can do to improve your stomach area.
Many people believe that the way to get a six pack is to sit down after sitting down. It takes about 250,000 sit-ups to burn a pound of fat, so it’s going to take a long time with that approach!
Actually, the main way to reduce waist and stomach fat is in the kitchen, but there are exercises you can do to give yourself that flat, athletic, sexy look.
So here are the top five exercises to develop a well-chiseled midsection:
1 HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training
This is the biggest for me. The amount of calories you burn doing HIIT compared to steady cardio is huge, the more you do in half the time. This is an exercise method where you alternate between going at a high level of effort for short bursts and slowing down to a more moderate “rest” pace, for example, 15-20 second burst followed by 30-40 seconds rest, then repeat. A typical session lasts 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your fitness level.
The good thing about HIIT training is that you not only burn calories during exercise, but you burn them afterwards (up to 48 hours), as it keeps your metabolism revved up. A Laval University study shows that HIIT helps subjects burn nine times more fat than those who trained traditionally. Additionally, doing HIIT can help preserve the muscle mass you already have, which you tend to lose with lower-intensity activities.
2 The Plank
This is my favorite abdominal exercise (I’m not crazy) and one that I use the most with my clients. I find the plank to be one of the most effective ab exercises. The plank helps strengthen your abdominal muscles, but it also works all of your core muscles, back, and hips.
It’s a relatively simple exercise (do it but it hurts), all you do is lie on your stomach on a mat resting on your forearms, palms flat on the floor. Push off the floor, coming up on your toes and supporting yourself on your elbows. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abs to keep your rear end from sticking up into the air or sinking in the middle.
If you haven’t done a plank before, try holding for 30-60 seconds, lower to your knees, rest for a minute, and repeat 2-3 times.
3 bike or cycling crunches
This exercise is a great abdominal exercise for working the obliques (the side of the abs) and the rectus abdominis (the long, flat muscles along the front sides of the abdomen – 6-pack portion).
Fully extend one leg while the other is bent and touch the bent leg with the opposite elbow as if doing a twisting crunch. Then repeat for the other side without resting (as if you were riding a bike) or dropping your torso down so that the entire time you do so, your upper body is in an abdominal position. It’s hard. Use as large a range of motion as possible until you get tired, then you can make the motion smaller.
4 fitness ball crunches
Fitness ball crunches should take pressure off your back and target your abs so well that the other muscles that usually come into play during crunches are left alone. Traditional sit-ups from the ground can cause back and neck discomfort and I never do them with my clients.
Lie down on the ball, placing it under your lower back. Cross your arms over your chest or place them behind your head. Contract your abs to lift your torso off the ball, pulling the bottom of your rib cage toward your hips. The idea is to roll the ball backwards while doing sit-ups so that your butt comes closer to the ground, and then do the opposite in reverse. As you snuggle, don’t let the ball roll. Lower your back down, stretching your abs, and repeat to start with 1-3 sets of 12-16 reps.
5 Hanging knee raise
The final exercise is a hanging knee raise, this is another personal favorite of mine and is a great exercise for targeting the lower abs.
The only problem is that you need a pull-up bar, Smith machine, or Roman chair to perform them properly.
The hanging knee raise should be done slowly while hanging from a bar. Bring your knees up to your waist and then lower them down and repeat. You should never swing your legs in place, but instead control the movement and brace your abs through the full range of motion (ROM). The best way to do this is to keep your mind focused on your lower abs and make sure they are doing the work. If you still can’t support your body weight, try this move lying on your back.
So there you have my top 5 exercises for a flat stomach.
By performing these exercises 2-3 times a week combined with a clean, healthy nutrition program, you’ll be well on your way to that flat stomach.
Take care of yourself,