Plank pose targets and tones the entire abdominal area.
If you're ready to shed the "muffin top" sitting at the top of your jeans, you'll need to turn several healthy actions into daily habits. According to the Harvard Health Press, fat that accumulates around your abdomen is actually more dangerous for your health than fat anywhere else in your body. Abdominal fat is correlated with a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and certain types of cancers. Flattening your stomach is not just a matter of aesthetics, it's also a positive step forward towards good health.
Create a calorie deficit by reducing the amount of calories you consume every day. In order to flatten the bottom of your stomach, you'll first need to ditch the extra calories that are helping you to put on and keep extra weight. For example, cutting out an extra 500 calories per day for a week can help you burn 1 pound of fat. Sugary foods and drinks, saturated fats and processed foods, like cakes and muffins, should be the first things to go since all of these foods can help add extra inches around your middle. For a stomach-flattening diet, stick with fresh vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat and low-sugar dairy products, whole grains and some fresh fruit. Drink water and herbal teas throughout the day to insure that you are not dehydrated and avoid eating too much salt, which can make your tummy feel bloated.
Shave fat away from the bottom of your stomach with regular cardiovascular exercise. According to the American Council on Exercise, it's impossible to reduce a specific area of your body -- a concept called the spot reduction myth. Performing moderate to vigorous cardiovascular exercise three to five times per week can help you burn extra calories, paving the way to weight loss. to help you burn more calories in a shorter period of time. HIIT combines short bursts of intense physical activity -- for example, performing as many quick crunches as you can in 30 seconds -- with longer periods of moderate activity, like jogging in place or swimming laps.
Tone the muscles of your lower abdominals -- the rectus abdominus and oblique muscles -- with strength-training exercises two to three times per week. In between training sessions, leave at least one full day so your muscles have time to repair and rest. According to one study performed by the American Council on Exercise, the top three exercises that target the muscles of the lower abs are bicycle crunches, the captain's chair and crunches on an exercise ball. For an extended workout, throw in Plank pose and reverse crunches. Cycle through three circuits, including all five exercises, performing as many repetitions as you can in 30-second intervals.
Before starting any workout, be sure to warm up your body first with five to 10 minutes of light aerobic activity, like jumping jacks or jogging in place.
Always check with your doctor before starting a new diet or exercise routine. If you experience lower-back pain, have a history of abdominal or back surgery or are pregnant, postpartum or obese, get your doctor's "OK" before trying out ab exercises.