Two women doing side planks

Five Quick Ways to Get Toned Abs and Flatten Your Belly

How many sit-ups do you think you’ve done in your life? Hundreds, or maybe even thousands? Personally, I think I did at least two million back in my teen years. And here’s what I learned: While those crunches helped a little, they didn’t help a lot in my pursuit to get toned abs.

Why? While crunches exercise some core muscles, they’re worthless for others. Luckily, there are other effective ways to slim and strengthen your abs. Here are five of my favorite ways to get great abs and a flatter stomach.

1. Stomach vacuuming (for a flatter belly!)

It’s the latest rage… and yes, it actually works! Here’s how to do it.

Pick a time when you haven’t eaten recently. Choose one of these positions:

       On your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

       On your hands and knees.

       Sitting up straight in a chair with no arm rests.

Take a few deep breaths. Then exhale as much air as you can, and pull your belly button in toward your spine. Hold this position for 15 seconds, squeezing your belly button in as far as you can and taking small breaths if needed. Try to work your way up to 60 seconds.

The great thing about this stomach exercise is that in addition to giving your abs a powerful workout while you’re doing it, it trains you to keep your tummy tucked in during the day and INSTANTLY flattens your belly!

2. Bicycles (builds toned abs!)

This exercise is easy to do, but it really works. Do enough repetitions, and I guarantee that you’ll feel your abs the next day!  This is a very effective technique to get toned abs fast.

1.      Lie face-up on a carpeted floor or mat and put your hands behind your head, gently supporting your head with your fingers. Lift your legs at about a 45-degree angle.

2.      Make a bicycling motion with your legs, straightening one leg as you bend the other. As you bend each knee, rotate your body to bring the opposite elbow close to it. Do three sets of 16 bicycles on each side.

3. Planks (sculpts your waistline!)

Yeah, I know. These are a little tough. But as you’re tightening your abs, you’ll also be sculpting your thighs and butt—so you’ll get a lot of reward for a little pain.

Here’s how to do a proper plank pose:

1.      Lie face-down on a carpeted floor or mat. Rest your upper body on your forearms, keeping your palms flat on the floor.

2.      Push off the floor, supporting your body on your toes and forearms. Your body should form a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Don’t let your butt stick up or sag.

3.      Hold this position for 20 to 60 seconds. Repeat three to five times.

4. Side planks (trims those love handles!)

This variant of the plank doesn’t just flatten your abs; it strengthens your back as well, giving you beautiful posture and helping to protect you from back injuries.

To do a side plank, lie on your right side, supporting your upper body on your right forearm, with your legs straight and your left hand on your left hip. Tighten your abs and lift your hips, supporting your body weight on your right forearm and the side of your right foot. (Don’t let your hips sag.) Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

5. Reverse Crunches (tummy tightening for your lower abs!)

This belly flattening exercise really digs into those lower ab muscles. One caution, however: Skip this exercise if you have any back problems.

To do a reverse crunch, lie on a carpeted floor or mat with your arms at your sides. Lift your legs straight up. Now lift your hips off the floor, raising your legs straight up toward the ceiling. Lower your hips and repeat.

Are you ready to get a flatter belly & get toned abs? Keep at it!

To get the best results from these exercises, do them regularly. The fastest way to get toned abs is consistency! Get in the habit of doing the stomach vacuuming exercise first thing every morning before breakfast, and do the bicycles, planks, side planks, and reverse crunches at least every other day.

Here’s just one recommended stomach flattening workout routine you can implement to get quick results:

Daily – Exercise 1 > 5 sets x 60 seconds each rep

Mon, Wed, Friday – Exercises 2-5 > 3 sets of 12 reps each

Along with a healthy eating plan, I bet that within a couple of weeks, your waistline will get slimmer and more sculpted. I also predict that you’ll see changes in your butt and thighs, because these exercises work your entire core.  Just imagine how good you’ll look in a few months from now and make all your friends envious during the holiday season!

And here’s something else I predict: You’re not going to miss those crunches one bit!