Ab work will develop tone, but not decrease stomach fat.
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The most effective way to tone your stomach is to participate in a comprehensive workout program and follow a healthy eating plan. Gaining a flat stomach requires that you lower your body fat percentage with regular bouts of cardio and healthy eating, and also develop muscle tone with consistent weight training sessions. There's no way to target fat loss in a particular area, notes Jessica Matthews of the American Council on Exercise, but as you lower overall body fat percentage, your stomach will get flatter.1.
Incorporate 150 to 250 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio into your weekly regimen. This is the amount of exercise recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine for those looking to lower body fat. Spread this time throughout the week as your schedule allows. For example, you could do five 30-minute sessions for a total of 150 minutes -- or about seven 35-minute sessions for a total of nearly 250 minutes. Jumping rope, jumping jacks, running and jogging up stairs are moderate-intensity cardio exercises that burn calories and also require engagement of the abs.2.
Perform two to three full-body weight training workouts every week, with each one landing on nonconsecutive days. The American Council on Exercise recommends performing one to two sets of 12 to 15 reps. Lifting weights will not only burn calories during your session, but will increase your metabolic rate, which means you'll burn more calories throughout all times of the day. A workout that targets all the major muscles in the body includes bench presses or pushups, rows or pullups, shoulder press or dips, biceps curls, squats, lunges and calf raises.3.
Complete two to three abdominal workouts every week. While abdominal exercises like crunches won't make an impact on stomach fat, they will allow you to develop muscular tone. As your body fat percentage lowers, ab definition will become visible. According to the American Council on Exercise, the bicycle crunch, vertical leg crunch and crunches on an exercise ball are among the most effective exercises for targeting the major abdominal muscles.4.
Limit your daily calorie intake by making healthy eating decisions. Instead of counting calories, focus on consuming nutrient-dense, lower calorie foods like whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. In addition, decrease the size of your portions by 10 to 15 percent and avoid alcohol and soda.
- Exercise mat
- Watch timer
- Weight training equipment
- As you get into better cardiovascular shape, gradually increase the intensity of your sessions. The higher intensity the workout, the more calories you'll burn. In addition, higher-intensity workouts will keep your metabolic rate elevated even after you're finished.
- Visit your doctor prior to beginning a new workout regimen.