Just about every one we know wants a flat belly, but let’s be honest, not everybody is willing to put in the work. And I don’t blame them. It takes a lot of focused effort, combining top-notch nutrition with belly flattening exercises and more to get that elusive six-packs.
If that doesn’t scare you away and you want still a more shapely core, try these belly flattening exercises and you’ll find yourself looking sleeker and sexier in no time. And for those who just want to have a slimmer waistline, rather than the holy grail six-pack, that’s a doable goal for just about all of us!
Why Are Toned Abs Healthy?
Besides the fact that toned abdominals just plain look great, and there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself at a pool or on the beach this summer, why exactly is a flat belly so important?
Well, let’s begin by reviewing what comprises your belly. Your abdominals are part of what is known as your “core.” Your core muscles consist of the transversus abdominus, multifidus, diaphragm, lower back, and pelvic floor muscles. All of these muscles work in tandem with each other to help move your body. Your upper and lower body are essentially connected by this section of musculature, so having healthy, strong abdominals helps your entire body function, remain stable and upright, bend, twist, and straighten, and supports your internal organs.
Keep Your Diet Tight, Keep Your Core Tight
To have a flat belly, there is more that needs to be addressed than just performing belly flattening exercises. You can have beautiful six-pack abs hidden under a layer of fat, and no one will know how flat your stomach really can be. Having a flat belly is really a function of three things:
- Exercises to burn excess calories and to strengthen and tone your core,
- A healthy diet which allows you to burn off excess body fat,
- A lifestyle that eliminates stress, bloating, lack of sleep, and other unhealthy practices.
Keeping your diet in check will go a long way toward helping you achieve that flat belly as well. It’s important to stick to a calorie-conscious healthy whole-food nutrition plan and be consistent. To keep your belly flat, you will also want to avoid things that can cause belly bloat. What are some of the things that can be behind the dreaded belly bloat?
- Too much salt
- Food intolerances
- Too much sugar
- Insufficient fiber
- Carbonated drinks
- Large meals
- Eating processed foods
- Toxicity within your body
- Rushing through meals
In addition, some diseases and complications (like fibroids, ovarian cysts, irritable bowel syndrome, partial bowel blockage, fluid retention, etc.) may cause unexplained distention, and in those cases, you will likely need to seek the advice of a healthcare practitioner.
Try These Belly Flattening Exercises
1. Plank. This is one of the most recognizable belly flattening exercises you can do. This effective exercise helps you strengthen your entire body while assisting in fortifying your core. Begin by kneeling on your hands and knees on a mat and move to a pushup position by stretching your legs straight out behind you. Make sure you are resting on your toes. Next, lower your upper body down onto your forearms, so they are flat on the ground with your elbows directly below your shoulders. Make sure your back forms a straight angled line from your head down to your heels. Now, hold this position for 30 seconds. Release by dropping to your knees. Rest and repeat.
2. Side Planks. Taking it up a notch, it’s time to work your obliques! Start in plank position (see above). Next, rotate your body to put your weight on your right arm, elbow, and forearm, while turning your left hip toward the ceiling and stacking your feet together (one on top of the other). Keep your upper body and hips lifted off the ground so your right elbow is directly underneath your right shoulder. You can put your left arm along your side or on your hip—wherever it’s comfortable. To make this exercise a bit easier as you build up strength, bend the top leg and place the right foot directly in front of you with your foot flat on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, rest, and repeat.
3. Russian Twist. Begin by sitting with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle. While sitting mostly upright, hold a medicine ball or a small weight in your hands with your arms outstretched and swing the weight to the right while twisting your torso. Pause and come back to center, repeating on the opposite side. Repeat for ten repetitions on each side.
4. Bicycles. You have undoubtedly seen people doing these exercises at the gym, or you’ve done them yourself. Begin by lying on your back, with your hands placed lightly behind your head (don’t pull forward on your head because you could hurt your neck). Then, raise your right knee toward your head. At the same time, bring your left elbow toward your right knee. You’ll feel those oblique muscles kicking in! Bring your elbow back to the starting position and straighten your right leg. Repeat the process on the opposite side. Keep going back and forth, alternating between sides in a bicycle-like motion.
5. Swiss Ball Tuck. If you really want to feel the burn, just try this exercise for a few minutes. Place your hands on the floor in front of you about shoulder-width apart. Put the tops of your feet onto a Swiss ball. Using your abdominal muscles, press your feet into the ball, and bend your knees to roll the ball toward you. Once your knees are fully tucked, straighten your legs out again, rolling the ball back to the start position. Repeat 10 times.
6. Crunch. No abdominal program would be complete without this exercise! Begin by lying on your back with your hands held loosely behind your head. Bend your legs so your feet are flat on the floor and raise your torso toward the ceiling (without pulling your head forward). Pause at the top of the movement to squeeze your abs and then release back to the start. Repeat 20 times.
7. Lying Leg Raise. Start while lying on your back with your arms straight and next to your hips. With a controlled motion, lift your legs until they are about 12 inches from the floor. Keep your lower back pressed into the floor and hold this position for 10 seconds. Slowly lower your legs back to the starting position.
8. Mogul Jump. This is a fun way to get the burn going in your abs and incinerate body fat at the same time. With your knees bent, toes on the ground, place your hands palms down on the ground in line under your shoulders. While keeping your feet together, twist your hips slightly and jump to the right. Pause and then perform the movement on the opposite side. Repeat for 30 seconds.
9. Scissor Kick. These are similar in setup to the lying leg raise, but instead of a static hold while your legs are outstretched, you’ll flutter kick your legs for 10 – 20 seconds at a time. Pause and repeat.
10. Hanging Knee Ups. You will need a piece of equipment for these. Simply hoist yourself up onto the apparatus, so your forearms are on the pads and your elbows are lined up below your shoulders while gripping the handles. Your legs will be hanging straight down. Next, bend your knees and bring them up toward your belly by contracting your abdominal muscles. Pause, lower, and repeat.
Top 10 Belly Flattening Exercises: A Recap
Lastly, don’t forget to throw plenty of cardiovascular exercise into the mix. Remember, it’s a combination of diet and exercise when it comes to getting that flat belly that really adds up. But, if you combine these with the easy belly flattening exercises listed above, you’ll be beach ready in no time!