Whether you want a flat stomach for its aesthetic appeal or indicator of strength, you can be sure that it won’t happen without a certain amount of discipline and dedication.
Luckily, there are lots of exercises you can do to burn fat, build muscle, and define your abs. If the endless lists of stomach exercises leave you unsure of which to choose, we’ve got you covered.
Read on to learn a few key exercises you can do on your own as well as other tips to follow that will increase your odds of achieving a flat stomach.
Do these exercises every other day so that your muscles have a chance to recover. On alternate days, focus on other types of exercise. Be careful if you have (or develop) pain in your neck, shoulders, or back.
This exercise is perfect for beginners who want to build up a strong core.
- Lie on your back with your feet raised and your legs at a 90-degree angle.
- Engage your lower abdominals as you lift your upper body off the mat.
- Reach your hands toward your toes, pausing for 1–2 seconds at the top.
- Slowly lower back down.
- Do 1–3 sets of 12–18 repetitions.
For added support, drop your bottom knee to the floor. To add intensity, raise your top leg as high as possible, or do hip dips by lowering your hips almost to the floor and then back up again.
- Lie on your right side with your right forearm below your shoulder.
- Extend your legs, left foot on top of right. Tighten your core.
- Lift your hips to form a straight line with your body. Raise your left arm straight up.
- Rotate your torso toward the floor and bring your left arm under your body.
- Rotate your torso and straighten your left arm to return to the starting position.
- Start with 1 set of 8–12 reps.
- Repeat on the other side.
For this exercise, be sure to rotate your core and avoid pulling with your hips or straining your neck. Root your lower back into the floor and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
- Lie on your back with bent knees and your heels flat on the floor.
- Interlace your fingers at the base of your skull.
- Come into the starting position by engaging your core, lifting your upper body from the floor, and raising your knees so they’re directly above your hips.
- On an exhale, twist your torso as you bring your right elbow and left knee toward each other.
- At the same time, straighten and extend your right leg.
- Hold this position for 1–2 counts before inhaling to the starting position.
- Then do the opposite side.
- This is one repetition. Do 2–3 sets of 8–18 repetitions.
This exercise builds core and spinal muscle. Elongate your spine and broaden across your chest throughout the pose.
- From a seated position, lean back on your sitting bones and tailbone.
- Raise your legs into the air to form a V shape.
- Extend your arms in front so they’re parallel to the floor.
- Hold for up to 1 minute.
- Repeat 2–3 times.
You can do this exercise on a flat surface if you don’t have a decline bench.
- Lie on a decline bench.
- As you start to lift your upper body, place your left hand behind your head and your right hand on your left thigh.
- Continue raising your upper body as you rotate your torso to the left side, bringing your right elbow to your left knee.
- Pause here for 1–2 seconds.
- Slowly lower back down to the starting position.
- Then do the opposite side.
- Do 2–3 sets of 10–18 repetitions.
This explosive exercise works your core and helps to burn fat.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Squat down and place your palms in front of you on the floor directly under your shoulders.
- Jump your legs back to come into a pushup position.
- Do 1 pushup, then jump your feet back to the starting position.
- Raise your arms overhead as you explosively jump.
- Upon landing, lower back down to the squat position.
- Do 6–10 sets of 12–25 repetitions.
To get a flat stomach and visible, defined abs, you’ll need to tone up your whole body and lower your body fat percentage. There are plenty of ways you can do this, and lots of options involve small, simple changes to your daily life.
Take a look at some of the following suggestions that can help to flatten out your belly. If you feel overwhelmed by choice, pick out the options that appeal to you most and will be easiest to implement into your life.
- Keep moving. Engage in as much movement as possible, from formal exercise sessions to 5-minute bursts of activity during your day. Aim to do 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily.
- Sleep is key. Get plenty of high-quality sleep to allow your body to fully relax and restore. Sleeping for longer periods each night is associated with decreased hunger and appetite, plus you may have more energy to exercise.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, which can not only flush out your system but also help you to feel full, thus avoiding unhealthy snacking.
- Listen to your gut. Pay attention to your gut health, which influences your weight, mood, and inflammation levels. Make a point to have plenty of probiotic foods such as pickles, tempeh, and kombucha.
- Let it all go. Treat yourself to a Chi Nei Tsang massage. This powerful abdominal massage is said to release emotions, detoxify your body, and boost energy levels. To find a practitioner near you, click here.
- Fast your way to a flat stomach. There are a few ways you can do intermittent fasting, which may help you to lose weight and take a closer look at your eating patterns.
- The right stuff. Fill your plate with foods that contain lots of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Reduce your intake of sugary, salty, highly processed foods. If you’re prone to bloating, avoid foods such as beans, gluten, and dairy products.
You may start seeing signs of progress within a few weeks of consistent exercise, but it can take from a few months up to a year of work before you see the full results.
Remember to focus on the bigger picture — your health! — and make as many positive changes to your diet and exercise as possible.
A flat stomach is an attainable goal as long as you commit to a healthy exercise and lifestyle plan and stick to it. You should start to see visible improvements within a few weeks to a few months.
How you wish to measure your success is up to you. You can base it on how you feel, how certain clothes fit, or actual measurements from your waist and hips.
The more commitment you have to your plan, the more likely you’ll be to get the results you want.