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Top 5 Best Exercises to Flatten Your Stomach

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top 5 exercises for flattening the stomachTop 5 Best Abdominal Exercises to Tighten and Flatten Your Stomach

If you want to tighten and flatten your midsection, a balanced nutrition plan and the right type of abdominal exercises are a must. In this article, I am going to show you some of my personal favorite abdominal exercises, great for those of you who want to achieve a tight and toned six pack. If this is your goal, this article is for you!

Of course before you jump into these exercises, remember that they alone will not magically melt fat away from your waist. This is the myth of spot reduction. You may have read or heard that you can burn fat off a particular body part by exercising that area. This simply is not possible. Even if you performed a thousand crunches every day, your fat will not simply vanish from your waist.

healthy balanced diet Fat reduction will only occur with a proper nutrition plan in conjunction with a balanced exercise program. This means utilizing cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and most importantly eating a healthy and well balanced diet. If your nutrition isn’t dialed-in, forget about it. This is especially true if your overweight as achieving a six pack will be virtually impossible if you aren’t eating a reduced calorie diet.

Now if your diet is already in check, begin incorporating these five abdominal exercises into your workout routine right away for great results.  I’m confident in no time you will begin to feel and see improvements in your abs definition. However, for those of you who have a little fat to burn, get that nutrition on track and incorporate cardiovascular plus these exercises into your exercise routine and you too will begin to see results in time.

Top 5 Abs Exercises to Flatten Your Stomach

#1. Stability Ball Plank

If you have a decently low body fat percentage the first step in creating a flatter stomach is to strengthen your core muscles.

Strengthening your core muscles will tighten up your mid section because the core muscles draw in your belly button which creates the smallest waist possible.

The plank is the best stabilization exercise to work the deep core muscles. Taken a step further on the stability ball will allow you to maximize the exercise to achieve maximum stomach tightening results.

The best part about the stability ball plank is you can do it at home or at the gym and it takes less time than most exercise machines which are far less effective.

To perform a proper stability ball plank properly make sure your belly button is drawn in at all times. Your lower back should never arch and your hips should never sag towards the floor. For more tips check out this blog post.

#2. BOSU Ball Crunches

After you have worked the deep core muscles with exercises such as the previous stability ball plank it is time to hit the abs.

If you already have minimal fat around your midsection and want to achieve the six pack abs look these crunches on the BOSU ball are a tremendous ab workout.

If you have never used the BOSU ball before just a few sets of these crunches and you will probably be sold.

You can pick a gym quality authentic BOSU at your local sporting good store or online for around $100 and they pretty much last forever. You almost literally would have to stab one with a butcher knife to damage it.

You can perform many other exercises on the BOSU besides abdominal crunches. There are many different variations of crunches which you can do on the BOSU. Make sure you keep your deep core muscles drawn in while you perform BOSU crunches. If you want to see even more things to do on the balance trainer, visit this page for more tips.

#3. Bicycle Crunches

The bicycle maneuver is an old but good abdominal exercise which can be done on the floor anywhere. The bad part about the bicycle maneuver is it very easy to cheat while doing them.

Bicycle crunches takes the good form and isolates one side at a time to get a very isolated abdominal crunch.

Form is key if you want to get any benefit from this abdominal isolation exercise. Make sure one leg is off of the floor and fully extended in front of you.

The other leg should be up in a 90 degree angle. While you crunch with your hands behind your head, you should lift both shoulders off of the floor twisting your opposite elbow to the leg which is up at 90 degrees.

If you do them properly you will be hard pressed to get 15 reps on each side. These are one of the best crunches for your abs but they can be quite difficult. This page dedicated to abdominal exercises is great if you’re looking for even more effective exercises for your abs so be sure to check it out.

#4. Stability Ball Walk Outs

If you had only one core exercise you could do for whatever reason stability ball walkouts would probably be your choice. These are sometimes called rollouts also.

Stability ball walkouts are a very good exercise for the deep core muscles which can tighten up to reduce the circumference of your waist.

When you perform walkouts your core has to control the up and down as well as the lateral movement of your core.

Since multiple planes of motion have to be accounted for, your core muscles work extra hard to hold your body steady.

To perform walkouts perfect you should never let your lower back arch and never let your stomach and hips sag towards the floor.

If you can perform 20 proper repetitions of stability ball walkouts the first time you should be proud and your whole mid section will be sore for a few days. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

#5. V-ups / Pike Crunch / Jackknifes

V-ups are a great way to work the abdominals. They are sometimes called jackknifes, pike crunches and there are some more names as well.

V-ups are not for everybody as they require you to use your hip flexors a lot. If you have heavy or very long legs V-ups may not work your abdominals as much as they should.

There are a few different ways to perform v-ups. The most beneficial way is to swing yourself up to the V position and slowly lower yourself all the way back down towards the floor.

A great things about V-ups is they can be modified very easily simply if you hold some form of resistance with your hand or between your ankles.

If you perform these 5 exercises on the same day you will be well on your way to a flatter stomach, and maybe even six pack abs which will show off a super fit, lean body.

The Bottom Line

core muscle anatomyIncorporating these five abdominal exercises into your overall exercise routine will not only take your abs definition up a big notch, you’re also going to vastly improve the strength and stability of your crucial core muscles.

While having an amazing looking six pack is not doubt something we all desire, if we look beyond our abs, core strength and stability is truly the foundation of a functionally strong body. With these exercises you’re hitting both and I’m confident you will be impressed with the results.

I hope you find these exercises enjoyable, let me know in the comments below how you feel after giving them a try!

Author Profile: Mike Behnken

Mike Behnken is a personal trainer who holds multiple NASM certifications and a MS in Exercise Science. Mike loves fitness, travel, and photography among many other interests.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.

Comments (4)

  1. KO says:

    I started doing stability ball twist crunches several weeks ago, twice per week. I found that stabilizing myself on the ball was tedious so I put the ball in a basket which keeps it from rolling and more-or-less replicates the effect of a BOSU ball.

    I am experiencing two problems.

    The ab and oblique muscles don’t seem to be fully recruited when I perform this exercise on the ball. When performing crunches on a mat, I can raise my torso only several inches before the abs reach full contraction and prevent further upward travel. I can feel the muscles “smooshed” together, and will soon feel a lactic acid burn. But on the ball when I raise my torso, the abs don’t really stop me at that “crunch” point and I can move farther forward without much contraction. It seems I can do too many reps. The twisting motion feels awkward and I can’t twist very much. When I twist, I feel discomfort in the hip flexors and hips.

    I go pretty far down in the stretch position to try and maximize the range of motion. I would have expected this to recruit the ab muscles more effectively than with mat crunches and fatigue them sooner, but the opposite is occurring.

    I keep my feet tucked in behind my knees so as to avoid hip flexor involvement but something is preventing the abs from doing as much of the work as they should. I feel like I am just spinning my wheels and not getting much of a result.

    So besides not developing my abs, I also have hip and hip flexor discomfort that remains after the workouts.

    How can I adjust my technique to target the abs more effectively?

    • What are your goals? What are you trying to accomplish with your ab routine? If you’re experiencing pain in your hip-flexors with little to no abdominal muscle recruitment, it is most likely a form or postural issue. Without being able to visually assess your form or posture, my suggestion is to do your ab work on the mat where you experience no pain and you feel ab muscle recruitment, or seek out a professional at a local gym where they can check your form and posture. I hope this helps and feel free to reply if you have any more questions.

      • KO says:

        With ab work, my goal is to develop the muscles sufficiently so that they are defined and prominent, and also to make my waist more narrow, or at least create that appearance of tapering inward through targeted stimulation. With all muscle groups, I try to employ exercises that work the muscle through as close to a full range of motion as possible, so that I can get as large a return on my investment, and perform as few exercises as possible. I would rather do one movement than three, if that one provides satisfactory results.

        The twisting ball crunches seem to work, to some extent, the upper and lower abs, including the intercostals and obliques, which must be worked for that tight waist look. If I were going to do only one exercise for abs, it would be this one. I just recently added abs to my workout regimen, and this exercise is the only one I am currently using. I don’t like to add new exercises until I can assess the effects of the one(s) I have been using (properly executed).

        That is why I want to make this exercise work. I can “feel” the potential it has to develop and shape the abdominal area. I feel a stretch in my lower abs at the bottom of the movement, and the range of motion is quite long, unlike mat crunches. I realize I must be doing something that is causing the hips/flexors to bear weight or stress, and taking some of the stress off of the abs, but I don’t know what it is. As mentioned, I keep my feet pulled in close to the ball, so that am not pulling with the legs. I’ve watched numerous demo videos, and I think I am using the same form shown therein, but maybe not. Or maybe there is something about my anatomy that requires some modification to the posture or motion.

        I did an ab workout this evening. In an effort to make the ball crunches more likely to recruit the ab muscles, I preceded them with mat twist crunches – basically, a mat crunch/ball crunch superset. That seemed to help somewhat. The pre-fatigue from the mat crunches reduced the reps on the ball, and I felt the rectus abdominis muscle working more. But there still seems to be something about stretching backward over the ball that is keeping my ab muscles from contracting as they should.

        Thank you for your advice.

  2. Personal Training Manchester says:

    I get asked all the time about how to flatten the stomach. One thing that most articles overlook is posture. Stand tall with your shoulders back and your stomach will become more taut and will ‘work’ – also concentrate on cardio for fat burning as the article suggests – no amount of crunches will give you a flat stomach until you have burned that fat.

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