If Santa Claus doled out perfect bodies instead goodies and presents at Christmas, it's safe to say that a flat belly would be on just about every woman's wish list. Whether it's the product of past pregnancies, sudden weight gain or the fact that you're not 17 anymore, belly pooches are completely common, but usually super stubborn. Instead of relying on any one thing to help you get a flat tummy, remember that it's a team effort. Sure, crunches will help, but some of the easiest flat tummy tips don't have anything to do with exercise.
Ab-isolating exercises can help to tone up and strengthen your abdominal muscles, but they aren't the only path to flat belly bliss. When adding ab exercises to your workout routine, make sure you target each of the four areas of your abdominal muscles: the upper abs, lower abs and either side of the abs, called the obliques. A simple crunch won't target all of these, so make sure to add in some other exercises, like a booty lift, bicycle and plank, as well as the old standard situp. Add strength-training and ab exercises to your fitness routine two to three times per week.
Strength training alone isn't going to help you get bikini ready. Instead, you'll also need to add cardio to your routine to really see results. Plan for 30 minutes of cardio five days per week. Dancing, cycling, running, kickboxing and anything to get your heart rate up qualifies. As you increase your heart rate, you burn calories and fat to reveal a flatter, more toned tummy.
They say you are what you eat, but that doesn't mean you'll score a perfect body by gnawing on a Barbie doll. Instead, rely on a diet that is high in nutrition, yet low in saturated fats, sodium and calories. Complex carbs, lean protein, healthy fats like those found in fish and avocados, and whole grains can all help fuel your body and your workouts without adding to extra weight around your middle.
Women can have an especially hard time nailing a flat belly because the female body retains water. Flushing out your body continually by drinking around 2.2 liters of water each day, staying away from high-sugar juices and diet sodas and skimping on the salt can help get rid of excess fluid and waste in the body, helping to reveal a svelter silhouette.
One of the best tips for scoring a flatter belly doesn't happen in the gym, but rather everywhere else. Slouching can make a "poochy" belly look even more prominent, but sitting up straight and relaxing your shoulders helps lengthen the torso, smoothing out your belly and training it to flatten out. As an added bonus, perfect posture helps strengthen the lower-back muscles and supports your entire core, which could be the missing piece to your slim belly puzzle.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.