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, eg burns arm fat with a bicep curl and lower body fat of the leg with a calf raise, sadly 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 after sit. It takes about 250,000 crunches 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 you that flat, athletic and sexy look.
So here are the top five exercises for developing 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 constant cardio is huge, the more you do in half the time. This is a method of exercise where you alternate between going to a high effort level for short bursts and slowing down to a more moderate “rest” pace, eg 15-20 second burst followed by 30-40 second rest, then repeat. A typical session lasts 15-25 minutes, depending on your fitness level.
The good thing about HIIT training is that you not only burn the calories during the exercise, but you burn them afterwards (up to 48 hours) as it keeps your metabolism revved up. A study from Laval University shows that HIIT helps subjects burn nine times more fat than those who trained traditionally. Additionally, doing HIIT can help preserve muscle mass you already have, which you tend to lose with lower intensity activities.
2 the plank
This is my favorite ab exercise (I’m not crazy) and one I use the most with my clients. I think the plank is one of the most effective abdominal exercises. The plank helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles, but it also works all the core muscles, the back and the hips.
It’s a relatively simple exercise (to do it but it hurts), all you do is lie face down on a mat resting on your forearms, palms flat on the floor. Push off the floor, rising 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 prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle.
If you haven’t done a plank before, try to hold for 30-60 seconds, lower to your knees, rest for a minute, and repeat 2-3 times.
3 bicycle 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 serving).
Fully extend one leg while the other is bent and touch the bent leg to the opposite elbow as if doing a spinning crunch. Then repeat to the other side without resting (as if you were riding a bike) or dropping your torso back down so that the entire time you do this, 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 movement smaller.
4 crunches with fitness ball
Fitness ball sit-ups should take pressure off your back and target the abs so well that the other muscles that usually come into play during sit-ups are left alone. Traditional sit-ups from the floor can cause back and neck discomfort and I never do them on my clients.
Lie 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 your lower ribcage toward your hips. The idea is to roll the ball back as you do crunches so that your butt is close to the floor, and then do the opposite on the reverse side. While 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 one of my personal favorites and is a great exercise to work the lower abs.
The only problem is that you need a pull-up bar, Smith machine, or Roman chair to perform them correctly.
The hanging knee raise should be done slowly while hanging from a bar. Bring your knees up toward your waist, then lower them down and repeat. You should never swing your legs in place, but rather control the movement and tighten 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 while lying on your back.
So there you have my top 5 exercises for a flat stomach.
By doing these exercises 2-3 times a week combined with a healthy and clean nutrition program, you will be well on your way to that flat stomach.