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Getting a flat stomach is a dream for many people. Articles detailing how to get a six-pack are great to read (and it’s even better if you actually achieve a six-pack), but many people simply aim to have a flat tummy to look good in a new dress or pair of jeans. I’m going to share a few secrets behind getting a flat stomach, so you can look good in any piece of clothing!
After having my triplets, I struggled to regain the strength in my core. I was determined to figure out a way to get that perfect flat stomach appearance with my dedication to fitness. With dedicated effort, I achieved first a flatter tummy and then my goal of a flat stomach. Here are three simple tips that can help you start working towards getting a perfect flat stomach.
Best tummy toning trick 1: Suck it in
One of the first exercises that I started to do on a daily basis was to simply ‘suck it in.’ Yes, I’m talking about standing up tall and trying to pull your belly button through to your spine. The action of simply ‘sucking it in’ activates your core muscles and help you to maintain good posture. If you stand up and try it right now, you’ll notice that you instantly feel taller. Your shoulders will relax and you will immediately appear to have a smaller tummy. Now, I’m not suggesting that you walk around all day sucking in your tummy, but if you do it at regular intervals throughout the day while seated or standing you will be strengthening your important core muscles. Try to do 3 sets of 10 x 10 second holds. It’s important that you practice contracting your abs while breathing. It will take practice but it is not wise to hold your breath while contracting your muscles.
Best tummy toning trick 2: Hydrate
It’s so important to stay hydrated throughout the day, especially if you want to flatten your tummy. It’s very common for women to get a puffy appearance when they’re not well hydrated. The human body can easily hold onto excess fluid giving your tummy a bloated appearance. If you carry a full water bottle with you during the day, it will serve as a perfect reminder to meet your minimum water requirement of 8-10 glasses per day.
Best tummy toning trick 3: Plank
The traditional plank is one of the all-around best abdominal moves for developing a flat stomach! It’ll also give you a strong core and superior posture. Unlike crunches, sit-ups, and hanging leg raises, which primarily work the rectus abdominals (the vertical “six-pack” muscles) and the oblique muscles (side of the abs), planks will work several muscles groups at once. Planks blast the transverse abdominal muscles that will help to keep your tummy flat. I like all types of plank exercises. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity, if you have good form then a plank will really make you work.
What is a plank?
In plank exercises you aim to raise your body from the ground and support yourself. Think of a plank as weightlifting and toning using your own weight! A basic plank is also known as a push-up plank as you adopt the same starting position. I recommend that beginners try starting out with a push-up plank. The position of a push-up plank is slightly easier to hold than more advanced types of plank exercises. Weight is distributed through the palms and shoulders which has the added bonus of really working your shoulders.
How to do a basic plank: Get into push-up position, making sure your wrists are directly below your shoulders. Eyes should be looking straight down to keep your neck in a nice neutral position, and your back should be flat. Pull your tummy and glutes (booty) tight. The wider apart your feet are, the more stable you will be! As you advance, aim to set your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the plank position until you feel your form is being lost. Aim for a 10-second hold with perfect form, and then try to advance to 30-second holds.
Push-up plank versus elbow plank: At an advanced level an elbow plank will push you to work your core even harder. An elbow plank calls for a specific arm position – rather than holding your arms straight they should be bent at the elbow. This style distributes your weight slightly differently from a basic plank and will force your core to work harder to maintain a solid plank. While a push-up plank is a great starter and maintenance position, I know that keeping my routines interesting keeps me pushing my body.
How to do an elbow plank: Position yourself as if you were about to begin a basic plank, then lower yourself onto your forearms. Bend your elbows so that you can lay your forearms on the floor, keeping your shoulders and elbows aligned.
I always advocate embracing your natural physique. It’s great to have fitness goals, but make sure they are realistic. Body confidence looks good on everyone! Getting a flat stomach will take time, patience, and an great overall plan that includes good nutrition and a well-balanced fitness routine. I hope my three flat belly secrets help you get started working towards the perfect flat stomach of your dreams!
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Written by Samantha Clayton. AFAA, ISSA – Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness.