Knowing how to get a flat stomach is the first step in achieving your fitness goals, with the following 4 exercises providing you with the building blocks to success.
Achieving a flat stomach in the modern world of fast-food and to-go coffee can be difficult. Positive nutrition can be hard to adhere to with our busy schedules and lack of time for healthy cooking. However, with a proper diet and the right exercises, we can work against weight-gain to rid ourselves of unwanted fat and curves to achieve a truly flat stomach. How to get a flat stomach can be a difficult process, but knowing how is the first and easiest step.
There are two variations of the plank, one using the hands and one using your elbows. The purpose of the plank is to engage your core in a compound movement that works all the muscles, tightening and strengthening your midsection. Correctly performing the plank is important, with the main element in this being your back, which should be kept as straight as possible.
To perform the elbow plank, begin by lying flat on your stomach, and place your forearms on the floor. Begin to press down on your forearms while pushing yourself up, planting your toes for support. Continue pushing until your head, neck, legs, and back all form a straight line. This exercise engages your entire body, builds balance, and burns energy. Don’t be surprised if you break a sweat from this exercise alone due to its complexity in terms of effort while its form is simple.
The next level of the plank is when we use our hands. We begin by lying with our stomach flat on the ground. Next, we place our hands down in front of our shoulders, then press up until our legs, back, neck and head all come into a single line. This form is a bit more difficult than the elbow plank and will place more stress on your chest due to the higher height from which you’re holding. Hand planks look essentially like the top of a well-performed push-up. Hold this position for as long as you can do so with proper form, then slowly release yourself back to the ground to repeat the process.
How to get a flat stomach isn’t easy, but with crunches and/or sit-ups, we’re well on our way to building a strong midsection. Crunches and sit-ups are similar to elbow or hand planks, in that one is the complete form while the other is a watered-down version that is more accessible and useful to build strength prior to trying out the fuller motion.
Crunches are the elbow-planks of an abs workout. We begin by lying flat on our backs, then bend our knees and bring our feet up towards our backsides, keeping about a foot between them so our legs make about a 45-degree angle. There is the option of interlocking your hands and placing them behind your head, or crossing your arms over the front of your chest. Begin with your head flat on the ground, then engaging your abdominal muscles, pull your shoulders up off the ground as your curl your shoulders, chest, and head inward towards your knees. You should feel all of the effort coming from your stomach.
Once we’ve reached full contraction on the crunch, meaning our shoulders have lifted off the ground and upper body curled in, but our lower backs remain on the ground, slowly lower the upper body back down to the floor in the same rounded motion, with control. One crunch has been completed. Continue performing repetitions of crunches until your abdominal muscles feel the burn and begin to feel fatigued. At this point stop and rest before performing another set, as when the abdominals get too sore if you continue other muscles will pick up the slack, ruining the point of the workout.
The sit-up is the full motion of the crunch, much like the hand plank as compared to the elbow plank. We begin in the same position with our bodies flat. We tuck our feet under our legs to make a 45-degree angle, then we interlock our hands behind our heads, or cross our arms over our chests. The point here is to make sure that we don’t pull on our heads with our arms to perform the crunch which could risk injury to your neck and removes from the strain on our mid-section.
With hands interlocked behind the head or arms crossed on the chest, engage the abdominals and raise the head, shoulders, and then the middle back up from the ground as the head and shoulders are curled inwards towards the knees. At the end of the motion, you will find yourself much closer to your knees, with your upper and middle back entirely removed from the ground, your bottom and some of your lower back maintaining contact. If your hands are interlocked behind your head, a good judge of the appropriate distance can be made with your elbows, which should be able to touch your knees at the top of the motion.
The sit-up is an essential compound movement we are better knowing when determining how to get a flat stomach. When lowering yourself, maintain control, making contact with the ground gradually beginning with your mid-back, then upper-back, neck, and finally your head. Repetitions of the complete sit-up may be more difficult than the crunch, and to protect against any risk of injury, maintain a continuous and smooth motion throughout, avoiding violent motions.
The plank provides for a compound movement that engages all the muscles of the upper body, especially your core. The sit-up targets your upper abdominal muscles as does the crunch, which is engaged directly as you curl your upper body towards your knees. To target your lower abdominal muscles, the leg lift is a fine exercise that is conceptually simple, but can be difficult to actually perform well.
To perform a leg lift, lie with your body entirely flat on the ground. Place your hands interlocked behind your head, or alternatively, lengthen them out by your sides then with your palms facing down, place them underneath your bottom to hold them down. To begin, engage your lower abdominals by lifting your legs and feet, still in a straight line, one inch from the ground. This is the starting point and ending point of each repetition. From here, raise your legs up until they are perpendicular with the ground and form a 90-degree angle with your body.
From the top of the repetition, slowly lower your legs back down towards the floor, taking care to keep them straight. At the end of each repetition, do not touch your feet or legs back to the ground, but maintain the one inch of distance to keep your lower abdominals engaged. Perform as many reps as you can while maintaining a smooth and continuous motion both up and down, then rest between sets by laying your legs down on the ground.
The scissor and bicycle are additional lower abdominal exercises that increase the difficulty by adding in further motion.
For the scissor, we begin at the starting point of the leg raise, lying down with our bodies flat, legs and feet an inch or two off of the ground. We then extend our feet out in opposite directions so they are a few feet apart, just beyond shoulder width is generally fine. Next, we move our feet in towards the center, for odd repetitions our right foot goes over the left, overlapping it, then for even repetitions allow your left foot to be the one that slides underneath. This motion is meant to engage your lower abdominals above your hip-line. Maintain control and move slowly.
The bicycle mimics the pedaling of a bicycle and provides a great lower abdominal workout. Begin by lying on your back, then raise your thighs up at a 90-degree angle, and allow your ankles and feet to then rest parallel to the ground. Pressing forward first with your right foot, then your left as your right foot pull back, mimic the movement of pedaling a bicycle with your legs. Go to fatigue then return your feet to the ground like the start of a sit-up between sets.
Conclusion on How to Get a Flat Stomach
How to get a flat stomach is a process with many steps and a wide variety of exercises that can be performed.
Now that we know how to get a flat stomach, we must make sure to watch our diets and ensure that our food intake is as healthy as our workouts. The finest of workouts and most perfectly performed sit-ups will build muscle, but definition comes only through conditioning and dieting. To achieve the six-pack abdominals you’d like to show off on the beach, not only must we know how to get a flat stomach, we must also know how to eat to have an abdominal six-pack.
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