When it comes to the least favourite part of the body, the stomach is usually top of the list. One survey found that 77% of women are dissatisfied with their waistline, while four-out-of-five men dislike their beer bellies.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that many people look for ways to flatten their tum. Yet, having washboard abs is more than just an aesthetic desire, it can improve your core strength, slash your risk of heart disease and reduce back pain.
If achieving a flat stomach is your goal, here are some top exercises to help shift the flab.
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Start this exercise lying down flat on the floor. Bring both legs off the floor and kick each leg alternately, keeping the legs straight. Don’t let your feet touch the floor as you kick. Keep this going for around 20 seconds and repeat for three sets. Flutter kicks work the stomach muscles but are also great for toning the legs.
Begin the plank in a push-up position, with your elbows bent and forearms resting on the floor. Extend your body and come up on your toes. Hold your body in a straight line and stay in this pose for around 30-60 seconds, as you squeeze your abs, legs and glutes. You’ll really feel the muscles in your stomach getting a pummelling, but the plank is also beneficial for toning the buttocks, legs and back.
Sit-ups have long been known to shift weight off the stomach and they still remain one of the best exercises you can do to this day to tackle this problem area. With a partial sit-up, lie on your back with your knees bent. Your feet need to stay firm on the ground, so you might want to tuck them under something such as a weight or chair so they don’t move. With your arms stretched out in front, lift your core so that you touch your knees. Make sure to only lift your upper back, shoulders and head off the floor. Perform around 40 reps to get the stomach muscles in gear.
Side squat reach
Stand up straight with this exercise and then lower your body into a squat position. Return to standing as you push out of the squat and twist your body to the left. As you twist, thrust your right arm overhead to the left side. Return to centre and lower into another squat. This time, twist to the right and bring the left arm over to the right side. Keep this exercise going for a minute to gain the maximum tummy-toning benefits.
For whittling the waistline, you can’t get much better than the reverse crunch. To begin, lie straight on the ground. Place your arms against the floor, with your palms pressed into the floor to give you stability. Bend your knees and bring them up towards your head, keeping your back on the ground. Lift your knees upwards at the top of the movement, allowing your back and bottom to raise slightly off the floor. Bring your knees back to hip level and repeat the rep. Aim for 8-12 crunches per set. This exercise can also be performed on a chair or a decline bench.
The key to getting your abs in tip-top shape is to perform these exercises regularly. Once you master them, you might need to increase the reps or try harder variations of each movement to keep the tummy-toning momentum going.