Getting a flat stomach isn’t impossible, but it does take a commitment to a plan of exercise and healthy eating. And the results can be slow and steady — you may have to wait weeks or even months before you see a difference. If you’re dedicated to your plan and stick with it, you can transform your midriff from flab to fab.
It’s important to note, however, that no amount of crunches or other ab exercises can give you a flat stomach if you have a layer of belly fat covering up your muscles. That’s why you need to combine abdominal exercises with other types of exercise that burn calories and help you lose belly fat, such as aerobic exercises, like running or walking, and weight training.
In addition to reducing your overall body fat, a strong core can help improve digestive function and reduce back pain. To get the most out of your abs, perform a warm-up routine before you start your workout. This helps loosen your joints, activate the muscles in your body, and increase blood flow to prepare for workout intensity (2).
Start with simple exercises that engage your core and strengthen the muscles in your abdomen. Begin with the standard plank, which involves lying on the floor with your face down, thighs parallel to the ground and your arms straight out in front of you. To make it more challenging, try moving into the side plank position, bringing your right hand down to your left knee (or to the ceiling for an added challenge).
While you may want to perform a lot of ab exercises, don’t go overboard. Too many ab exercises can lead to lower-back pain, which is actually caused by excessive stress on the muscles in your neck and shoulders.
Ideally, you should perform a few sets of each of these exercises and repeat them for up to 15 repetitions per set. Rest for 60 seconds between each set to allow your muscles time to recover.
In addition to the above, you can incorporate a variety of other ab exercises to target different areas of your abdomen and make them more challenging. You can also use props, such as resistance bands or a medicine ball, to add an extra challenge to your workout.
You can also incorporate some fun, high-energy moves into your routine to make it more entertaining and effective. For example, if you’re doing a plank or side plank, you can add in some jumping jacks for an explosive exercise that challenges the core and legs at the same time. You can also try adding some instability to your ab workout by lying on the floor with your back against a wall and placing your feet farther apart than normal, which forces your abs and hips to tighten as you balance. This will also work your obliques more than the standard plank. You can also challenge yourself to a variation of the plank, known as the star plank.
Milena Estêvão is a YouTuber passionate about sharing her experiences (challenges, successes and motivations) in the fitness activities she is involved in.
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