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3 Exercises for a Flatter Belly

3 Exercises for a Flatter Belly

With beach weather just around the corner, who isn't thinking about shedding a few pounds and tackling that muffin top? So we hit the floor and bang out some crunches, but our pants still fit a bit snugger than we would like. What gives? According to Obi Obadike, a celebrity trainer named by Sharecare as one of the Top 10 Social Healthmakers in Fitness, it takes more than a few crunches to make a difference. 

"Interval training is a great way to slim down and build fitness," Obadike says. "It gives you bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a recovery period. And research shows that you continue burning calories for up to 48 hours after a workout." Obadike credits sprinting (going back to his days as a top sprinter at Cal State Fullerton, no less) as one of the exercises that's given him the six-pack abs for which he is famous, gracing the cover of many a fitness magazine. But even if you're not a sprinter (most of us aren't!) it doesn't mean you can't burn off some of that belly fat. Here are his top three must-dos for working those abs:

1. Cardio: Do a combination of fast walking/running outside or on a treadmill. First, do a fast walk at a speed of 3.0 mph for 30 seconds, then pick up the pace and run at a speed of 6.0 to 7.0 mph for 30 seconds. When you're walking for 30 seconds, that is your recovery and rest period. 

Success secretDo the walk/run combination for 20 to 25 minutes four times per week to see results.

2. Leg Lifts: Lie on your back with your arms next to you. Your head remains on the ground. Raise your legs about 6 to 12 inches off the ground. Your legs should be slightly bent to help keep your lower back from arching up. If your back still arches, bend your legs more. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds. Do three or four Leg Lifts twice a week. If this is too challenging, hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds and do two Leg Lifts per week. But remember, the only way to get stronger and flatten your tummy is to challenge yourself to increase the time and number. 

Success secret: Keep breathing! Holding your breath while doing this exercise only makes it harder to maintain good form.

3. Sit-ups: Lie on the floor with knees bent, feet flat. Cross your arms over your chest so that each hand rests on the opposite shoulder. Slowly raise your torso off the ground until your elbows touch your thighs. Your back should be straight at a 90-degree angle to the floor; your head should be in line with your back (don’t let it flop backward or forward). This is the end position of the sit-up. Slowly roll back to the starting position, arms still crossed. If you have trouble keeping your feet on the floor, try hooking them under something stable, like a couch, or ask a workout buddy to hold your feet down. Start with one to two sets of 10 reps each, twice a week, and work up to three to four sets of 20 reps twice a week. As your core muscles strengthen, you'll be able to increase your reps and keep your feet flat without assistance. 

Success secret: When performing this exercise, be sure you pull your ab muscles in tightly and don’t hold your breath. Exhale as you come up, inhale as you roll down.

“Anybody can obtain the body they desire, they just need to be willing to put in the work and have the discipline to do what is necessary to reach their goal,” says Obadike. “Some people have to work harder than others due to body type, age and genetics, but it can be done.”

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