Flattening your tummy doesn’t have to be the most difficult thing in the world. According to the National Federation of Personal Trainers “Personal Trainers Manual,” the most effective way to flatten your tummy and expose your abdominal muscles is through proper eating, caloric burning and adequately intense exercise. The most effective exercises for the tummy are those that incorporate your core muscles and burn calories simultaneously.
Seated Knee Raise
The seated knee raise is perfect for beginners and experts alike. It targets the lower half of your abdominal cavity, as well as your oblique and leg muscles. To perform it, sit on the ground with your legs straight in front of you and hands propping you up slightly behind your back. From a straight leg position, lift your heels off the ground and bring your knees to your chest to crunch your core. Hold the crunch for 2 to 3 seconds and extend your legs back to a straight position. Do not let your legs hit the ground. This is one repetition. Try and complete 10 repetitions, which is 1 set. Complete 3 sets in total. For an added calorie burning kick, instead of counting use a stopwatch or a clock and try to do 30 seconds as fast as you can without stopping. Gradually increase the time by 10 seconds each week until you can go 1 minute without stopping.
This “oldie but goodie” can still deliver where all other ab exercise fall short. According to the American College of Sports Medicine “Resources for the Personal Trainer,” the bridge, or plank, puts tremendous stress–the effective kind–on the entire middle portion of the body and fires off tons of fat burning functions. To perform it, get down on the ground as if to do a classic push-up. Drop onto your elbows and hold yourself up on them. Imagine yourself literally as a bridge, keeping your butt and hips parallel to the floor. Try and keep your elbows and shoulders lined up so that your body weight is distributed evenly. If you have trouble engaging your core, try shifting your weight a bit forward so your shoulders slightly creep over your elbows. If you have difficulty holding the position for more than 10 seconds, try holding the position with your knees on the ground. As you develop strength you can move up on your toes. Start with 30-second sets and gradually work your way up to 2-minute sets. Do 5 sets.
Lying Bicycle Pedals
Surely this is one exercise that even Lance Armstrong would be proud of. Not only does it double as a cardio workout, but it engages most of the lower abdominal, upper leg and thigh muscles. Simply lie on your back and bring your knees up and directly over your hips. Bend your legs so that they are at a 90-degree angle. This is the starting position. Imagine how you would pedal on a bicycle and begin by extending one leg out followed by the other in an alternating motion. Continue this pedaling motion for 30 seconds. This is one timed set. If you can complete 30 seconds without straining, move to 40–and so on. You should time it so that the last 10 seconds are moderately difficult. Try starting with 3 timed sets and work your way up to 5 timed sets, always increasing the time to match your endurance level.
About this Author
Antonius Ortega is a 13-year veteran of the fitness industry and an athletic trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. His articles on fitness, health and travel have appeared in newspapers such as the “The Hornet,” “The Daily Bruin,” and “Stars and Stripes.” Ortega trains in Orange County.