Is your goal a flat belly?

Goal: Flat Abs

The best exercises to tone and tighten your abdominal muscles.

Call it what you want: washboard, six pack, cut, or chiseled. What you desire are abs of steel. Defined, toned abs are a fitness goal for both men and women, and while belly fat can be tough to lose, don’t give up on those stubborn areas. Stick with your diet and exercise plan and you’ll be needing a smaller pant size in no time. Then, focus your attention on tightening and toning your abs with effective exercises like these.

The Plank

Think of a plank of wood: a flat piece of timber used for building purposes. That’s the shape you want your body to make. Get on the floor in push-up position, balancing on your hands and toes. (If you’re a beginner, get on your elbows and knees). Put your body in a straight line and keep your abdominal and glute muscles tight. Hold and breathe for as many seconds as you can.

You can also try the side plank. On the floor, balance on the side of your foot and your elbow, keeping your body in a straight line.

Crunch Variations

Tired of doing the traditional crunch? Try a reverse crunch. Lie on your back with your hands cradling your head. Lift your legs, bend your knees, and point your toes toward the sky. Tighten you abs and raise your tailbone and lower back off the floor. Lower back to the starting position and repeat.

A second type of crunch to try is the oblique crunch. Lie on your back and place your left hand on the left side of your head, your right hand by your side on the floor. Rest your feet on a bench or step. Lift your left shoulder and twist up until your left elbow touches your right knee. Do several reps and then switch sides.

The bicycle crunch is a third popular variation of the crunch. Lie on your back and lightly cradle your head with your hands. Bend your knees and bring your legs up so your lower legs are parallel to the ground. Now, lift your shoulders, being careful not to strain your neck, and start moving your legs in a pedaling motion as if riding a bicycle. As you bring your left knee up, reach your right elbow across your body to touch it. Now, extend your left leg and bend your right knee up, reaching your left elbow across your body. Continue alternating sides.

Side Bends

A third way to work your abdominal muscles is the side bend. Stand up tall with your feet placed shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell with your right hand, palm facing in. Rest your left hand on your hip. Keeping your back straight, bend at the waist to the right side. Hold. Then bend to the left side and hold. Switch the dumbbell to your left hand and repeat the movements. This exercise can also be done with a barbell on your shoulders or while siting on a bench.

Leg Raises

Another great way to build strong abs is with leg raises. Lie on the floor or on a flat bench and place your hands by your sides or under your glutes. Keep your legs straight or slightly bent, exhale, and raise your legs up until they’re perpendicular to the floor. Inhale and lower them back to the floor. Add intensity by holding a dumbbell between your feet.

Commit to a workout routine that includes 15 minutes of abdominal exercises three days a week and see the difference it makes. You’ll be swimsuit ready by the time summer rolls around next year!

No Machinery Necessary

Though there are a handful of ab-centric exercise machines out there, many of the best abdominal exercises require nothing but your body.


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