Clearly, finding an enjoyable activity that you can do on a regular basis, such as walking, running or biking is wonderful, but you also need to target the specific area of the belly to tone the muscles for better definition and shape.
Happily, easy belly exercises can be done at home. The abdomen is the part of the body between the chest and the pelvis. The abdominal muscles assist in the breathing process, provide flexibility and movement, protect the inner organs and are a key element for supporting the spine and they also provide postural support together with the back muscles.
In the front of the abdomen, there is a major muscle called the rectus abdominis, also known as the “abs” and “lower abdominals”, it is a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the human abdomen.
The obliques are muscles on the side of the upper body that help turn the body from side to side. This body area is also called “love handles”. It is vital to properly work your obliques as toning them creates a more attractive waist and better movement.
When we do the basic sit-ups and crunches (see exercise 1) we only do up and down movement so we work on the “6 pack” area, but when we crunch and twist (exercise 2), we work the oblique muscles as the twisting movement is the one that work your obliques.
8 Easy Flat Tummy Exercises
1. Crunches/sit ups. This exercise is beneficial for your upper abdomen. Lay on the floor and hold your hands by your ears rather than behind your head to prevent a neck strain. Bend your knees with your feet on the floor. Then lift your shoulders and upper back up and away from the floor with your face pointing toward the ceiling. Exhale as you come up as far as you can, hold for a second, then inhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat 15-25 times
2. Crunch and twist. This exercise works the obliques (also known as love handles). Start with the same position as the above exercise (crunches), but this time raise yourself up slowly then twist your body from the waist (not back and shoulders). Try to touch your left knee with your right elbow, untwist and go to starting position. The next time do the opposite side and try to touch your right knee with your left elbow. Repeat on each side 10-15 times.
3. Pike and Extend. Lie on floor, legs extended over your hips (see the left image). Then crunch up so your hands reach towards your feet. Then bring your arms back overhead while at the same time you lower your left leg towards the floor. Then crunch up again while your hands reach both your toes, but this time when you bring your arms back overhead, lower your right leg towards the floor. Repeat 20 times alternating sides.
4. Front Bridge exercise (planks). This exercise is ideal for strengthening core muscles and is also good for the back. Suck your belly button and keep your body as straight as possible without locking your knees. Continue to breathe and don’t hold your breath. Hold yourself in this position as long as you can, then rest. Repeat 2-3 times. Gradually extend the time of holding yourself in the position.
5. Hip lifts. Lie on floor, arms by your sides. Your palms facing down, legs over your hips at 90 degrees. Feet are flexed. Then lift your hips off the floor using your core muscles while legs reach towards the ceiling. Then return to starting position. Repeat 15 times.
6. Crunch Chop And Crunch Chop Twist. Lie on floor, legs are over hips at 90 degrees and your arms are overhead. Take a deep breath, and when you exhale, lift your head and shoulders off the floor, and as you crunch up, open your legs so your arms chop through your legs. Repeat this movement for 1 minute.
When you want to work your obliques, chop each hand through the opposite leg; i.e., when you lift your head and shoulders off the floor, chop with right hand through your left leg and alternate between the sides.
7. Side Plank. This exercise not only helps flatten your tummy, but it can also give you a firmer, rounder butt. Lie on right side while your legs are extended, feet and hips resting on floor on top of each other. Your right elbow should be directly under your shoulder as per illustration. Then contract core muscles and lift hips and knees off floor. Hold for as long as you can, then return to starting position. Then do other side and repeat.
8. Leg Drop. Lie on the floor, legs over hips at 90 degrees. Slowly lower your legs as low as you can without touching the floor, but make sure not to lift your lower back. Then raise your legs to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.