A flat tummy is a fitness goal that many aspire to but often find elusive. Women, especially those who have been through the journey of motherhood, know the struggle with a ‘mom pooch’ all too well.
Perhaps you’re dealing with a stubborn belly bulge on account of stress, poor eating habits, or a sedentary lifestyle.You may have tried countless exercises and diets with little to no success. Truth is, you just can’t spot reduce fat from specific areas of your body.
But, you can definitely strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles to achieve a leaner look.
tummy workouts are about to get a major upgrade with this comprehensive guide. We’ll cover effective exercises, proper form, diet tips, and the science behind why these methods work.
Why is a Flat Tummy Desirable?
Aside from the obvious physical aesthetic, having a flat tummy has several benefits.
First, a strong core can improve your posture and overall body alignment, reducing strain on your back and improving balance (8).
Second, a strong core translates to improved athletic performance in sports such as running, tennis, and dancing (8).
Furthermore, a flat stomach can also improve your self-confidence and body image, leading to better mental health.
If you tend to let yourself off the hook, raise the white flag when things get tougher than you expected, send yourself on an unconscious binge-eating trip – BetterMe app is here to help you leave all of these sabotaging habits in the past!
The Importance of Proper Form
When it comes to doing a flat tummy workout, no matter with weights or without, proper form is crucial for optimal results and preventing injuries.
One common mistake is relying solely on crunches or sit-ups to target the abs. While these exercises do engage the abdominal muscles, they are not enough to fully strengthen and tone them.
To ensure proper form, it’s important to engage your entire core, maintain a neutral spine, and learn how to brace correctly throughout different exercises. Remember to also breathe correctly by exhaling on exertion and inhaling during rest periods.
The idea is to engage all abdominal muscles, not just the superficial ones, for a stronger and more defined midsection.
It’s also important to incorporate a variety of exercises that target different areas of the core, such as planks, side bends, and leg lifts.
Which Exercise Is Best for a Flat Tummy?
The best exercise for a flat tummy engages multiple muscle groups, challenges your core stability, and allows for progressive overload.
One of the most effective exercises to have in your flat tummy workout plan is the plank, which not only targets the abdominal muscles but also engages the arms, shoulders, back, and legs for a full-body workout.
Other great exercises include Russian twists, bicycle crunches, and mountain climbers.
Let’s review all the exercises you may want to include in your flat tummy workouts, from those for beginners to intermediate, and advanced levels.
The plank is an ideal exercise for flat tummy workouts at home and at the gym simply because it requires no equipment and has many variations to target different muscle groups.
To perform a plank:
- Place your forearms on the ground in a plank position, with elbows directly under your shoulders and feet hip-width apart.
- Engage your core by pulling your navel towards your spine and squeezing your glutes.
- Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or as long as you can maintain proper form.
- For more of a challenge, try lifting one arm or leg off the ground while keeping your core engaged and hips stable.
This exercise targets the obliques (side abdominal muscles) and also engages the arms, shoulders, and back. It’s among the exercises to include in a flat tummy workout with weights because it can be performed with a dumbbell or medicine ball.
To perform Russian twists:
- Sit on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Lean back slightly, keeping your spine straight and core engaged.
- Hold a weight in front of you (or clasp your hands) and twist your torso from side to side, touching the weight to the ground on each side.
- Perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
This classic ab exercise targets the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles) and also engages the hip flexors.
To perform bicycle crunches:
- Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and knees bent.
- Lift your shoulder blades off the ground and bring your right elbow to touch your left knee, while simultaneously straightening out your right leg.
- Switch sides, bringing your left elbow to touch your right knee.
- Continue alternating for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
This exercise is perfect for getting your heart rate up and targeting the entire core, including the lower abdominals. Among the 7 easy exercises for a flat stomach and small waist (the others being similar cardio-based movements), mountain climbers are easier and more low-impact.
To perform mountain climbers:
- Begin in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and feet hip-width apart.
- Drive one knee towards your chest and then quickly switch to the other leg, as if you’re running in place.
- Continue alternating for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- To add intensity, try bringing your knees towards the opposite elbows for an oblique twist.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 30 seconds to 1 minute.
This exercise is great for targeting the lower abdominals and also engages the hip flexors. The key to performing leg lifts correctly is to avoid arching your back or using momentum to lift your legs. By keeping your core engaged you can effectively isolate the lower abs.
To perform leg lifts:
- Lie on your back with your hands at your sides and legs extended straight out.
- Lift both legs off the ground by engaging your lower abs and keeping your spine neutral.
- Slowly lower your legs back down, without touching the floor, to complete one rep.
- Perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
Standing Kettlebell Marches
Standing ab exercises are a great addition to flat tummy workouts for individuals who prefer standing exercises for a variety of reasons – such as back pain or difficulty getting up and down from the floor. Kettlebell marches are an effective exercise that challenges your balance, stability, and core strength.
To perform kettlebell marches:
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell in one hand by your side.
- Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine as you lift the opposite leg off the ground and bring your knee towards your chest.
- Lower the lifted leg and repeat on the other side.
- Perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each side.
Flutter kicks are great for working the lower abs and hip flexors, while also challenging your core endurance.
To perform flutter kicks:
- Lie on your back with your hands at your sides and legs extended straight out.
- Lift your legs off the ground and then make small, rapid up-and-down scissor-like motions with your legs.
- Keep your abs contracted throughout the exercise and maintain a neutral spine.
- Continue for 3 sets of 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Wood chops are a dynamic exercise that engages not just your abdominals, but also your shoulders, back, and hips. In addition, they work the obliques and transverse abdominis, the deepest ab muscle group that wraps around the spine for protection and stability.
To perform wood chops:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a weight with both hands.
- Twist your torso to one side and lift the weight over your shoulder.
- Next, twist your torso to the opposite side while bringing the weight across your body down towards your knee.
- Return to the start position and do 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each side.
Check out our Home Workouts To Lose Belly Fat to see how to structure your routine.
BetterMe app is a foolproof way to go from zero to a weight loss hero in a safe and sustainable way! What are you waiting for? Start transforming your body now!
What Exercises Burn The Most Belly Fat
Any exercise that involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by rest periods, known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), has been shown to be effective in burning belly fat.
The idea is to burn overall body fat, as spot reduction (targeting specific areas for fat loss) is not possible. By combining resistance training and cardio in a HIIT format, you can effectively burn belly fat while also building muscle to tone your stomach.
Some examples of exercises that can be incorporated into a HIIT workout include:
- Jump squats
- High knees
- Mountain climbers
- Kettlebell swings
- Jumping lunges
- Battle ropes
The key is to alternate between high-intensity exercises and rest periods, ranging from 15-30 seconds of work followed by 15-30 seconds of rest. This type of workout can be completed in as little as 20 minutes and is a highly efficient way to burn belly fat and improve overall fitness.
In addition to HIIT, incorporating strength training exercises such as deadlifts, squats, and rows into your workouts can also help build muscle which increases metabolism and can help burn fat as a result (5).
Do Sit-Ups Burn Belly Fat?
Sit-ups don’t burn belly fat specifically, but they can help strengthen and tone the abdominal muscles.
To effectively burn belly fat, a combination of cardio, strength training, and a healthy diet are necessary (10). Sit-ups can be incorporated into your ab workout routine for muscle definition, but they should not be solely relied upon for fat loss.
Read this recent blog – How Many Sit-Ups a Day to learn more about incorporating sit-ups into your fitness routine and how they can contribute to overall fat loss.
Do Planks Burn Belly Fat?
Planks don’t directly burn belly fat, but they can help strengthen and tone the entire core, including the abs (6).
Like sit-ups, incorporating planks into your workout routine can aid in muscle definition but should not be solely relied upon for burning belly fat. A well-rounded exercise routine that includes cardio and strength training is necessary for overall fat loss and a toned midsection. section.
How Can I Get a Flat Stomach In 7 Days?
It might be better to allow yourself more time to get a flat stomach than 7 days. Here are some steps you can take:
- Drinking plenty of water to flush out excess fluids and reduce bloating.
- Avoiding high-sodium foods that can cause water retention.
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals to aid digestion and prevent bloating.
- Incorporating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and kefir into your diet for gut health.
However, if you are looking to lose belly fat in 7 days, it’s impossible. Significant weight loss and body composition changes take time. It’s impossible to reduce fat in just one week, but by following a healthy diet and exercise routine consistently you can begin to see results over time.
Can I Get a Flat Belly In 2 Weeks?
It’s impossible to drastically change your body composition in just two weeks, but you can make progress towards a flatter belly.
In addition to following a balanced diet and incorporating HIIT and strength training exercises into your routine, you can also incorporate these tips:
- Cut back on sugary and processed foods that can contribute to bloating.
- Increase your intake of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to aid digestion and reduce bloating.
- Avoid drinking too many carbonated beverages or chewing gum, as these can cause excess air to build up in your stomach.
Note, that cleaning up your diet in 2 weeks can set you up for long-term success in losing belly fat and achieving a flatter stomach.
If you’re not sure how to get started, our 28-Day Flat Belly Challenge has tips to help you lose belly fat and tone your midsection.
Why Can’t I Lose Belly Fat?
You may struggle to lose belly fat because your exercise and diet routine aren’t effective.
Here are some common reasons why you may have trouble losing belly fat:
- You’re not doing enough high-intensity exercises or strength training to burn fat and build muscle.
- Your diet consists of too many ultra-processed and high-sugar foods that contribute to weight gain.
- You’re not getting enough sleep, which can affect hormone levels and lead to weight gain.
- You have an underlying medical condition that affects metabolism, such as thyroid problems.
If you’re struggling to lose belly fat, it’s important to evaluate your exercise and diet routine and make necessary changes. It may also be helpful to consult with a healthcare professional.
What Foods Burn Belly Fat?
There is no specific food that can target belly fat for weight loss. However, incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your diet can aid in overall weight loss and reducing belly fat.
Some foods that may be beneficial for burning belly fat include (4):
- High-protein foods like lean meats, eggs, and legumes increase metabolism and promote muscle growth.
- Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to aid digestion and promote satiety.
- Healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and olive oil can help reduce inflammation and support healthy body weight.
A customized, calorie-reduced diet that includes all food groups in recommended daily intakes for overall health and weight management, including reducing belly fat.
What Causes Belly Fat?
Belly fat is largely influenced by lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise habits.
Some potential causes of belly fat include (9):
- Consuming a diet high in ultra-processed and sugary foods.
- Lack of physical activity.
- Poor sleep quality.
- Hormonal imbalances or changes.
Genetics may also play a role in where your body tends to store fat, but ultimately it comes down to maintaining a healthy lifestyle to reduce belly fat and improve overall health.
Why Is My Belly Fat Nor Jiggly?
A firm, protruding belly may be caused by excess visceral fat, which is the type of fat that surrounds your organs (1).
This type of fat is often linked to health risks such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes (7).
To reduce visceral fat, a balanced diet and exercise routine are key. Additionally, incorporating stress-reducing activities like yoga or meditation can also help manage cortisol levels, which may contribute to increased belly fat (7).
How Can I Slim My Waist?
You can slim your waist by incorporating a combination of healthy eating and exercise habits (10).
Here are some tips for slimming your waist:
- Incorporate cardio exercises like running or cycling to burn excess fat and calories.
- Strengthen your core with exercises like planks, side bends, and Russian twists for a more defined waistline.
- Reduce your overall body fat through a healthy diet and regular exercise routine.
Additionally, practicing good posture can also help give the appearance of a slimmer waist.
That said, genetics can also play a role in waist size, some individuals may naturally have a smaller waist than others.
The Bottom Line
Getting a flat stomach and small waist requires a combination of regular exercise, proper nutrition, and consistency. While targeted ab exercises can help tone and strengthen the abdominal muscles, they must be paired with overall fat-burning exercises and a healthy diet in order to see positive results.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Abdominal Obesity, Adipokines and Non-communicable Diseases (2020,nih.gov)
- Core conditioning: It’s not just about abs (2008,harvard.edu)
- Management Strategies for Abdominal Bloating and Distension (2014,nih.gov)
- Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance (2021,nih.gov)
- The benefits of adding cross training to your exercise routine (2018,msu.edu)
- The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat (2011,nih.gov)
- Visceral Fat (2022,clevelandclinic.org)
- The real-world benefits of strengthening your core (2012,harvard.edu)
- What causes obesity & overweight? (2021,nih.gov)
- Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies (2003,nih.gov)