You can’t ignore it. Every time you pull on your skinny jeans and reach for the zipper, it’s there—that bulge around your middle that makes you want to want to scream. Before resigning yourself to thigh-length sweaters the rest of your life, try these moves for a flatter, sexier stomach. One caveat here: no particular exercise trims fat directly from your tummy, and you need to eat sensibly to lose the flab. However, visceral fat around the stomach responds better to diet and exercise than lower-body fat, according to Harvard Medical School, so you should see results fairly quickly. Plus, these exercises shape stomach muscles for a tighter look.
1. Front plank – This one’s a toughie, but it’s also kind of fun.
- Start by lying on your stomach with your elbows bent and tucked by your sides, so your chest and head are propped up slightly. Place your palms on the ground and flex your ankles so your toes touch the floor.
- Extend your elbows to lift your body, push-up style, keeping your back and knees straight. Continue until your elbows are at right angles.
- Hold for five to 10 seconds, and then slowly lower back down.
- Repeat eight times. Eventually, work up to two or three sets.
2. V-ups – These moves shred stomach muscles—six-pack ahead!
- Lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms stretched behind you.
- Bend at the waist so that your body forms a “V” shape. Keep your knees and your torso straight, and try to touch your hands to your toes.
- Lie back down and repeat 10 times. For advanced levels, repeat for two to three total sets.
3. Bird-dogs – Bring out your animal instincts with this exercise, which works your stomach, back and buttocks.
- Get down on your hands and knees (ooooh, kinky), palms on the ground with your wrists directly under your shoulders.
- Lift your left leg straight behind you until it is level with your upper body. At the same time, lift your right arm straight in front of you to the same level. If it’s too difficult to move your arm and leg at once, start with your leg and then your arm.
- Return to the starting position and repeat with the right leg and left arm.
- Perform eight repetitions on each side. Work up to two or three sets.
4. Cardio – Cardio burns mega calories to help burn off fat. Plus, most aerobic exercises engage your abs to some degree. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of cardio, five days per week, which meets guidelines set by the Department of Health and Human Services. Running, swimming, playing tennis or taking a Zumba class are all terrific options.
5. Meditation – It may sound strange, but relaxing may be an important part of achieving a flat stomach. You see, stress brings out the hormone cortisol, which is linked to excess visceral fat. This type of fat is only found in the abdomen, and sits deep around your organs. Visceral fat is also linked to diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer, says Harvard Medical School. So take a yoga class or do some deep breathing exercise to flush that anxiety and help slim your tummy in the process.