While you may just want to look great in a swimsuit, carrying excess fat in your midsection can be hazardous to your health, according to the Mayo Clinic. The fat in your stomach can be under the skin, called subcutaneous fat, or visceral fat and around your organs. Visceral body fat can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. It would be great if lying on your stomach made it flat, but that won't get you permanent results. Instead, flatten your stomach with exercise and a healthy diet.
To flatten that stomach you have to do consistent abdominal training. If you have excess fat in your tummy, all of the crunches in the world won't get rid of it. But what regular sessions will do is tighten and flatten the core muscles, and help keep them that way. Train your abs at least two or three times per week. You can build up to daily sessions, as these muscles are resistant to fatigue, according to Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico. Choose five to eight different exercises and perform them back to back in an abdominal circuit. Do eight to 12 reps to build muscle, or do up to 30 reps for muscular endurance.
The flab covering those fantastic abs will not go away by lying on it, so you need to do your cardio. Accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio or alternate moderate and vigorous workouts. But get it done. Choose activities you enjoy, but also challenge your body. Swimming, biking, running, walking, a Spin class or even the elliptical are just a few of your options.
Now you may be thinking that you just want a flat stomach, but resistance training the rest of your body can help. Adding lean muscle to your body raises your metabolism, which in turn can burn fat, leading to a tight tummy. Do two or three full-body workouts each week. Include exercises for each major muscle group: back, chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, glutes, quads, hamstrings and caves. Do one to three sets of eight to 12 reps for each exercise. Use a challenging weight but maintain proper form for all reps.
Tips and Considerations
If you have some body fat to lose, it will take time. Plan on losing about 1 to 2 pounds of fat each week to help flatten your stomach. If you don't have excess fat but just need to tone those muscles, you will see results faster. Consider modifying your diet if necessary. You want to eat a balance of carbohydrates, lean protein, heart-healthy unsaturated fats as well as fruits and veggies. Avoid processed foods and drinks, and increase that water intake to get those flat, toned abs.
- Mayo Clinic.com: Belly Fat In Women: Taking - And Keeping - It Off
- American Council on Exercise: Why Is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- University of New Mexico: SuperAbs Resource Manual
- ExRx.net: Weight Training Workout Design
- ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription; American College of Sports Medicine
Bethany Kochan began writing professionally in 2010. She has worked in fitness as a group instructor, personal trainer and fitness specialist since 1998. Kochan graduated in 2000 from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, Medical Exercise Specialist and certified YogaFit instructor.