How to Exercise for a Flat Stomach
How to Exercise for a Flat Stomach
1 Identify your core.
Your “core” includes your abdominal, lower back, and pelvic muscles. Your core is separated from your chest muscles by your diaphragm, which helps you breathe. In addition to protecting many vital organs inside your abdominal cavity, your core muscles are also responsible for helping your move the main portion, or trunk, of your body. They also affect your posture, balance and stability. Your core muscles are extremely important and should always be included as part of a well-rounded exercise routine.
The core is one of the widest used sets of muscles in your body and yet, it is one of the muscle groups that many tend to forget to train regularly.
2 Learn the general requirements for most core exercises.
Most core exercises can easily be done without any equipment or weights, and in the comfort of your own home. During each exercise you should try to focus your attention on the deepest abdominal muscle you have, which is called the transversus abdominis. This is the same muscle that tenses when you cough, so you can do some fake coughs to help you locate and focus on it.
Perform the exercises on the floor, either on a mat or a carpet.
Remember to breathe deeply throughout each exercise — don’t hold your breath.
When first starting out, repeat each exercise five times. Once you’ve had some practice, and are ready, increase the repetitions to 10–15.
Stop exercising any time you feel in pain or have severe discomfort.
3 Perform the bridge exercise.
Lie on your back, with your knees bent. Keep your arms flat on the floor beside you. Keep yourself in as neutral a position as possible, tighten your abdominal muscles, and lift your hips and bum off the ground. You want to lift your hips until they are completely aligned with your knees and shoulder, then hold yourself in this position as long as you can.
4 Do abdominal crunches.
Lie on your back and place your feet against a wall such that your knees and hips are at 90 degree angles. Focus on your transversus abdominis and tighten all your abdominal muscles. Raise your head and shoulders off the ground while your arms are crossed over your chest. Hold for three deep breaths and relax.
5 Try single-leg abdominal presses.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your back in a neutral position and tighten your abdominal muscles. Raise your right foot off the ground until your knee is at a 90 degree angle from the floor. Push your hand against your right knee while using your abdominal muscles to push your knee towards your hand. Don’t bend your arm. Hold this for three deep breaths then relax. Do this exercise on both your left and right sides during each set of repetitions.
Instead of putting your right hand on the front your of your right knee, put it on the outside of your right knee. Push your right hand against your right knee while pushing your right knee — outwards — towards your right hand.
Change this exercise up a bit by using your right hand on your left knee instead. Push your right hand against your left knee, from the inside, while pushing your left knee against your right hand. Hold for three deep breaths and then relax.
6 Expand to the double-leg abdominal press.
Try the double-leg abdominal press once you’re comfortable with the single-leg abdominal press. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your back in a neutral position and tighten your abdominal muscles. Raise both legs off the floor until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Push both hands against each knee while pushing each knee against your hands. Hold for three deep breaths and relax.
An alternative is to place your right hand on the inside of your left knee, and your left hand on the inside of your right knee. Your arms will be crossed in front of you. Push outwards with your hands while pushing inwards with your knees.
Yet another alternative is to place your left hand on the outside of your left knee, and your right hand on the outside of your right knee. Push inwards with your hands while pushing outwards with your knees.
7 Rotate your core.
This is actually referred to as a “segmental rotation” and you start by lying on the floor with your knees bent. Keep your back in a neutral position and tighten your abdominal muscles. While keeping your shoulders flat on the ground, let your knees fall slowly to your right. You should be able to lower your knees far enough to feel a stretch, but not to the point of discomfort. Hold for three deep breaths then return to the starting position and rotate to the left side.
8 Perform the “quadruped.”
In a way, this exercise is going to look like you’re trying to swim while your on your hands and knees on the ground! Put your hands and knees on the ground — with your hands directly below your shoulders. Keep your back straight and align your head and neck to your back. Raise your right arm off the floor and reach it forward. Hold you arm for three deep breaths then relax. Do the same thing with your left arm. Then raise your right leg off the ground and try to bring it up to align with your back. Hold your leg for three deep breaths then relax. Do the same thing with your left leg.
To add an extra layer of fun, do the same exercise but raise your right hand and left leg at the same time. Hold them both for three deep breaths then relax. Repeat with your left hand and right leg.
9 Try the modified plank exercise.
Lie on your stomach, then raise yourself slightly until you’re resting on your forearms and knees. Your elbows should be directly below your shoulders. Your head, neck, and back should be aligned. While in this weird position, tighten your abdominal muscles and “push” your knees and elbows towards each other (without actually moving your elbows or knees). Hold for three deep breaths and relax.
An alternative to this exercise that adds an extra challenge is to raise your right arm instead of “pushing” your knees and elbows together. Hold your right arm up for three deep breaths, then relax. Repeat the same exercise with your left arm. You can also try the same thing with your legs instead of your arms.
If you’re really looking for a challenge, try this exercise while raising your right arm and your left leg. Hold them both for three deep breaths, then relax. Repeat the same movement with your left arm and right leg.
10 Attempt the side plank exercise.
Don’t be disappointed if you have trouble doing this exercise at the start; it’s not easy. Start by lying on your left side, then slowly raise yourself until you’re resting on your left forearm. When you’re in this position your elbow should be directly below your shoulder. Your shoulders, knees, and hips should be in alignment. Your knees should not be bent. Hold this position for three deep breaths, then relax. Repeat the same exercise on your right side.
To increase the challenge, lift yourself up until your resting on your left hand, instead of your left forearm. This will raise almost your whole body off the ground, except your feet. Reach your right hand towards the ceiling, with the palm facing forwards. Hold for three deep breaths, then relax. Repeat the same exercise on your right side.
11 Become Superman.
Yes, there is an exercise called the “Superman!” You’ll want to lie on your stomach with a towel or small cushion under your hips. Both arms should be stretched before you, and both legs should be stretched out behind you — like you’re Superman! Raise your right arm off the floor and hold for three deep breaths, then relax. Repeat the same thing with your left arm. Then raise your right leg off the ground and hold for three deep breaths. Repeat with your left leg.
Feel free to play the Superman theme song in your head while doing this!