If you’re reading on past the headline above, you’re doubtless already expecting us to include a few serious abdominal exercises in our advice. And if you’re still reading right now, you’ve obviously made a commitment to doing whatever it takes to get those stomach muscles working hard and looking good.

Now, stomach muscles are notoriously difficult to sculpt, compared to say your biceps but don’t worry because we’ve got some sound tips to help you succeed. And if there’s a reason this advice just won’t work for you, there are other options out there to think about. You might be considering a mini tummy tuck, for example, a popular choice if you’re thinking about a cosmetic procedure and we’ve even linked a video filled with information if you’d like to know more about that.

In the meantime, let’s get back to those top 9 ways to tighten and tone that tummy. 

1. Diet

Essentially, losing belly fat means that your six pack will be more visible, so while we are going to talk a lot about exercising that particular part of the anatomy, it’s also crucial that we acknowledge the importance of reducing your waistline through a healthy diet.

  • Add protein shakes to your diet because protein helps with muscle building and, as part of a healthy weight loss diet, has shown to help reduce waist size.
  • Limit your carb intake (particularly refined carbs) to help reduce your waist circumference and improve your health.
  • Cutting down on high sugar drinks such as soda and alcohol is a good way to lose tummy fat.

2. Yoga

Particular yoga asanas target certain areas of the body and there are plenty that will strengthen the stomach muscles.

  • The Tree Pose is a great abdominal strengthener when done correctly. In this pose, you should brace the abdominals in tight to your spine and plant your standing foot firmly into the ground. Try focusing your gaze while you hold the pose to help keep your balance.
  • To come into Chaturanga you need to start in a strong plank position and inhale. Exhaling, use the tightened core and hamstrings to move down and forwards bending the elbows at no less than a right angle. Be careful to keep the elbows close to the body while not to digging into the ribs. Aligning the elbows and hips, look slightly beyond your hands, pulling the shoulder back from the ears.
  • To get into Chair Pose from standing to bring both arms up alongside your ears and bend your knees.

3. Pilates

Pilates works on different areas of the body with challenging poses. Adding Pilates to your routine and you’ll discover some dynamic ways to engage and strengthen your core muscles. A strong core isn’t the only part of having a toned, flat tummy but also means balance and stability.

  • The One Hundred is very effective in developing abdominal muscles. To do it, lie on the ground with both legs off the floor, at an angle. Lift your head and shoulders off the ground and stretch your arms alongside your body, palms down. Pulse the arms, inhaling for 5 seconds and then exhaling for 5 seconds. Do this same action ten times, take a short rest and repeat.
  • For the Double Leg Stretch you need to start lying down but then roll yourself up into a ball, arms should be around bent knees but the lower back remains flat on the floor through the whole movement. Then, stretch the legs and arms out straight and tighten those muscles. Sweep your arms back around, bring the knees up again and now you should be back into your start position, ready to repeat.

4. The Pull Up Bar

Using a pull-up bar is a challenge but if you want something a little different, that will give you the edge when it comes to developing tummy muscles, it’s a must try. 

  • Hang off the bar with your knees and ankles together. Now, raise and lower the legs using a strong core for maximum control throughout the movement. You just completed a Hanging Leg Raise! This is a tough one so, do as many as you can and then build up slowly as time goes on.
  • The Hanging Knee Raise is similar to above except you need to use your core strength to rotate the body before you lift the legs. Be sure to work both sides evenly.
  • The Garhammer raise is a subtle movement but will definitely get the job done. Again, hang from the bar but this time have your knees already at your stomach. Now turn on the core and lift them even more. Lower and repeat, keeping your abdominals engaged throughout.

5. Running

A defined abdominal area is generally the result of minimal belly fat and strong muscles, and running is one of the most efficient ways to achieve both. A pro tip to help strengthen and tone the stomach is to draw the belly in tight whilst you run.

  • If you want those toned, tight abdominals, you really need to incorporate a decent run into your fitness routine several times a week.
  • Go full Rocky and add some boxing moves. Controlled punching in the air whilst twisting your upper torso from side to side is a great workout for your obliques.

6. Swimming

Swimming is an awesome full body workout and it’s virtually impossible not to work your abs when swimming because since we need to engage our core muscles in order to stay afloat and move through the water.

  • Freestyle is perfect for working those side abdominals. A strong core helps with balance and speed in the water, making this stroke extremely effective for building those stomach muscles. Many public pools have technique coaches to get you back on track if you’re feeling a bit rusty.
  • Backstroke works the tummy muscles in a similar way to freestyle since it’s essentially a mirror image movement. 
  • Butterfly is the stroke we all avoided in school purely because, both technically and physically, it’s the most difficult to master. But it’s really worth embracing because of how effective it is at working particularly the arms, shoulders and abdominals.

7.  Intermittent Fasting

If you do it right, fasting is a great way to lose extra kilos from the waistline and expose that defined stomach area. Intermittent fasting has become popular over the last decade and is an easy way to implement some form of food denial balanced with normal eating into your routine. 

  • The 5:2 diet involves the consumption of restricted calories for two days of the week and a normal, balanced diet for the other five.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat alternates between full days of completely abstaining from food and your normal diet.
  • Alternate-day fasting is fairly self-explanatory, though it can either mean absolutely no food or reducing your food consumption on a fast day.

8. Circuit Training

An ab circuit workout will be shorter than other routines but they incorporate specific exercises targeting the abdominals plus some cardo to get the heart rate up. Our circuit includes three ab exercises done for one minute each, with three repetitions plus one minute of skipping.

  • Medicine Ball Twists: Controlled side to side movements with feet and upper body off the ground. With the core tight, attempt to tap the ground with the ball on each side movement.
  • The Ab Hold entails keeping the trunk of the body slightly off the floor by engaging the abdominals. The straighter the legs the harder you’ll work the core but if you need to rest hold the knees into the chest for a few moments before resuming the pose. 
  • The Standard Plank is a gym favourite for good reason. There are heaps of dynamic movements that increase the intensity but just by slowly extending how long you stay in the plank position you’ll be giving the abdominals a fantastic workout. To ensure the perfect plank: arms under shoulders, back straight, abdominals and hamstrings switched on plus gaze just in front of the hands.

9. Crossfit

Having defined abdominal muscles doesn’t necessarily equal a strong core but these CrossFit exercises will ensure that not only will your tummy look toned but that your trunk is strong too. 

  • V-Ups are the ultimate ab worker but may take time to perfect. Essentially you need to create a V- shape with your body by lifting the arms and legs, making sure everything is tight! Your back should straight and shoulders pulled down, away from the ears.
  • The Hollow Hold starts lying down and pushing your back firmly into the ground to maintain engaged abs. Raise your legs and shoulders off the ground making sure not to tuck your chin. Hold for up to 3 minutes.

While it’s really important to stick to that healthy diet in order to lose belly fat, you’ll obviously need to incorporate lots of abdominal work into your healthy lifestyle too. But that doesn’t need to mean boring crunches and situps. 

To stay motivated and challenge yourself, it’s important to try new things and we recommend at least attempting some of the above. While most might seem difficult, to begin with, as part of a healthy diet and exercise regimen, you can expect to be rewarded with that tight and toned tummy you’re dreaming of right now.

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