The Best Exercise to Flatten the Tummy

“What is the best exercise to flatten the tummy?” is one of the top questions I’m asked by people trying to get lean and fit. Unfortunately, too many people who want to flatten their midsection have plenty of work to do first. That’s because exercises will do a great job at developing the abdominal muscles, but no one will be able to see what a great sculpting job you’ve done if there is a nice layer of fat over your abs.

Great abs are one of the first thing noticed by members of the opposite sex for either men or women, which accounts for the great number of inquiries on how to get them. Unless you’re one of those folks blessed with super genetics though, they are dependent about 70% diet and 30% your ab routine.

If your abdominal muscles are in need of some toning to the point where your stomach sags forward, you need to start an ab routine ASAP. That is actually the best exercise to flatten your ole tum. It isn’t actually an exercise but a routine that consists of a group of exercises performed in sequence.

Your stomach muscles are comprised of the upper and lower abdominals in the front. They are actually called the rectus abdominus. These are the “six pack” everyone talks about. On the sides you’ll find the obliques. These define the border to your 6 or 8 pack, once you lose enough fat to let them show through. You have the internal and external obliques.

Those Abdominal Muscles You're Building

Those Abdominal Muscles You’re Building

Each of these muscle groups responds best to a different exercise. That’s why you have to do a routine to make sure you get the maximum training benefit for each of them. There are 4 basic exercises that comprise the tummy flattening routine that can make you want to strut down the beach this summer (or if you’re Down Under, next summer).

Upper and Lower Abs

To hit the upper abdominal muscles you’ll want to do crunches. These are basically sit ups where you don’t lift your lower back off the floor. Just slowly roll your upper torso up, making sure you feel the contraction in your ab muscles. You want to use them to do the pulling; don’t rapidly pull yourself forward with your arms or upper torso muscles.

The lower abs will require leg raises. You can do hanging leg raises or lying leg raises. See the post I did  a couple of months ago on the best lower ab routine. That will answer your questions on these. The lower abs are neglected more often that not, so make sure you hit these hard. Too many people do crunches, but don’t do enough lower ab work.

To target your obliques you’ll need to do twisting crunches and side raises. As with crunches, make sure you you concentrate on feeling the contraction of your oblique muscles at the sides of your abdominal section with each repetition. The other key to great obliques is to do twisting movements, since one of the main functions of the obliques is to rotate your torso. Crunches with a twist at the top work well for this, as do twisting as you hold a weight. Really concentrate on feeling the obliques contract when you do these.

A third great exercise for the obliques is to do twisted hanging knee raises. To do these, hang from ab straps, then twist your knees to one side and raise them to touch your sides. Alternate from side to side with every other rep.

If you abhor twisting, relax, there are several exercises that are scientifically proven to develop obliques without any twisting. A flatter tummy will be right around the corner.

Non Twisting Oblique Exercises:

Lying Bicycles

Just like they sound, you lay on your back and pedal away, just be sure and extend your legs al the way out to a point about 4-6″ above the floor, no more!

Hanging Captain’s Chair Knee Raises

You can do these without any twisting and it still works your obliques terrifically well, according to studies that measure the electrical activity in your muscles as they’re doing work

How Many Reps Doith Flatter Abs Needeth?

How many reps and how many sets should you do of each exercise when you’re doing your routine? You have a very good blood supply to your abs and they can recover from being worked faster than many of your other muscles. Doing your ab routine every other day or every third day is fine. Don’t do them every day though. The muscles need time to recover if you want to see good results. Sets of 20 – 30 reps are great, but don’t go above this. You can go down to sets of 12 – 15 reps if you are using weight. Do 3 – 5 sets of one exercise for each of the abdominal muscle groups. That’s the best exercise to flatten your tummy (and make your six pack pop).