How many of you want that?

We always want to know how to flatten our stomach (especially the women) and get sexy looking lines.

Although spot reduction doesn’t work (for those of you who don’t know what this is it is the theory that you burn fat around the muscles you are exercising e.g. burn arm fat with a bicep curl and lower leg fat with a calf raise, sadly this doesn’t work) there are things you can do to improve your stomach area.

Many people believe that the way to get a six pack is to do sit up after sit up. It takes around 250,000 crunches to burn a pound of fat, so it’s going to take a long long time with that approach!

In reality the main way to trim down your waistline and stomach fat is in the kitchen but there are exercises you can do to give it that flat, athletic and sexy look.

So here are the five best exercises for developing a well chiselled midsection:

1 HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training

This is the biggest one for me. The amount of calories you burn doing HIIT compared to steady state cardio is massive, plus you’re done in half the time. This is a method of exercise where you alternate between going at high level of effort for short bursts and slowing to a more moderate “rest” pace e.g. 15-20 sec burst followed by 30-40 second rest, then repeat. A typical session lasts from 15-25 minutes depending on your fitness level.

A cool thing about HIIT training is you don’t just burn the calories during exercise you burn them after (for up to 48 hours) as it keeps your metabolism raised. A Laval University study shows that HIIT helps subjects burn nine times more fat than those who trained the traditional way. Also, doing HIIT can help preserve the muscle mass that you already have, which you tend to lose with lower intensity activities.

2 The Plank

This is my favourite ab exercise (I’m not crazy) and one I use most with my clients. I think the plank is one of the most effective abs exercises. The plank helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles, but also works all the core muscles, the back and the hips.

It’s a relatively simple exercise, (to perform but man it hurts) that’s all you do is lie face down on mat resting on the forearms, palms flat on the floor. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle.

If you haven’t planked before try to hold for 30 to 60 seconds, lower to your knees, rest for a minute and repeat 2-3 times.

3 Bicycle or Cycling Crunches

This exercise is a great abdominal exercise to work on obliques (the side of your abs) and rectus abdominus (the long flat muscles along the front sides of the abdomen – 6-pack portion).

You fully extend out one leg while the other is bent and you touch your opposite elbow to the bent leg as if you are doing a twisting crunch. Then you repeat for the other side without taking any rest (as if you are cycling) or dropping your torso back down so the whole time you are doing them your upper body is in a crunch position. It’s tough. Use as big a range of movement as possible until you fatigue then you can make the movement smaller.

4 Fitness Ball Sit Ups

Fitness ball sit ups should take the pressure off of your back and target your abs so well that the other muscles that usually come in to play during a sit up are left alone. Traditional sit ups from the floor can cause discomfort of the back and neck and I never do these with my clients.

Lie on the ball, positioning it under the lower back. Cross your arms over the chest or place them behind your head. Contract your abs to lift your torso off the ball, pulling the bottom of your ribcage down toward your hips. The idea is to roll the ball backwards as you crunch down so that your butt gets closer to the ground and then do the opposite on the reverse part. As you curl up, don’t let the ball roll. Lower back down, getting a stretch in the abs, and repeat for 1-3 sets of 12-16 reps to start with.

5 Hanging Knee Raise

Final exercise is a hanging knee raise, this is another personal favourite of mine and is a great exercise for working the lower abs.

The only problem is you need a chin up bar/smith machine/roman chair to perform them properly.

The hanging knee raise should be done slowly whilst hanging from a bar. Raise your knees up towards your waist and then lower and repeat. You should never swing your legs in place but instead the motion should be controlled and your abs should be tensed throughout the whole range of motion (ROM). The best way to do this is to keep your mind focussed on your lower abs and make sure they are doing the work. If you can’t hold your body weight yet try this movement lying on your back.

So there you have my top 5 exercise for a flat stomach.

Performing these exercises 2-3 times a week combined with a healthy clean nutrition programme and you’ll be well on the way to that flat stomach.

Take care,

Jamie Stedman

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