It’s easy to think a flat stomach is unattainable if you’re doing the same old crunches over and over and not seeing results, but the truth is, getting a lean midsection is about more than a few simple exercises. Those covetable “flat abs” are really a combination of eating clean, maintaining good posture, and doing different exercises to continuously increase your core strength. Because while a tiny tummy may help you fit into a certain size, it’s your core strength that helps you feel more powerful and move better, whether in your daily functions or your workouts.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some practical things you can do to strengthen your core and lose belly fat that go beyond doing the same old sit-ups. If you’ve been feeling bloated and like a six-pack is out of the question, think again. Take a little inventory of your healthy ab habits with these 7 ways to get a flatter tummy.
1. Learn Pilates
Pilates is essential for getting a lean tummy, because it teaches you how to pull in your transverse abdominus, the muscle that flattens your belly and protects your low back. Take a class, watch a video online, follow a written workout—no matter how you do it, you will notice a difference in how your tummy looks and feels! Pilates is the cream of the crop when it comes to abdominal exercise—make it a part of your weekly exercise routine.
2. Improve Your Posture
If you’re a chronic sloucher, here’s something that may change your tune: good posture can actually make you look taller, longer, and thinner. When you stand tall with proper posture, your abs are naturally drawn in and flattened. Proper posture looks like this: the crown of the head is over the tailbone, tailbone is over the heels, shoulders are back and done. Make it a habit—even when you sit!
3. Plank, Plank, Plank
No matter what you thought of the planking challenges that swept the nation several years ago, the bottom line is this: planks work. On your hands, on your forearms, on your side, holding still, adding a twist…there are so many ways to do a plank! Just remember to be ACTIVE in your plank: squeeze your abs, your butt, and your legs the whole time! And breathe.
Related: How To Plank Your Way To Flat Abs
4. Zip Up Tight Pants
Not literally, but imagine it. When you pull on a pair of tight pants and try to close the zipper, it is natural to draw your low abdominal muscles in so the zipper will come up. Replicate that action several times a day. This is a drawing in of the transversus abdominals—the muscle that flattens the belly and give you better posture.
5. Eat Better
Your diet matters. Get rid of sugar and sugar substitutes. The truth is that you might have a 6-pack, but nobody can see it if it’s covered by layers of fat. The only way to fix that is through clean eating. Added sugar wreaks havoc on your fat storage and sugar substitutes make you bloated. Either way = bigger pooch. Focus on eating more lean protein and veggies. And opt for fruit when you’re cravings sweets.
6. Know Your Tummy Anatomy
Crunches aren’t enough. Your abdominals include your rectus abdominus, external and internal obliques, and the aforementioned transversus abdominals. These muscles work in chorus. To have flat abs you need to work them all. Here are 3 great moves that will do just that. Click on the exercise for a photo and description:
- Side Plank Scoop: Do 8 right, 8 left. (Modify on Forearm if needed)
- Forearm Plank: 1 Minute
- Sweeping Scissors : 10-16 reps
7. Full Body Roll-Up
The full body roll-up encompasses the full use of your abdominal wall along with providing you with a healthier, more flexible spine; anyone and everyone should do it! Perform it 3 times a week, keeping in mind that the key is to be slow and controlled. Here’s how to do it: