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What do you need to do to achieve your ideal abs? To start with, it’s not just about exercise—it’s much more than that. Here are some terrific tips that’ll get you on your way to those flat abs you’ve been seeking.

Consider Entire-Body Exercises

You shouldn’t concentrate so much on your abs that you forget about the rest of your muscles. But you don’t need to do separate exercises for core and arms and legs—you can do a routine that incorporates all of your muscles and most whole-body movements will help you strengthen your core. How about a cardio class or boot camp class? If you’re new to fitness, a beginner’s Pilates class might just be a great fit.

Perform the “Cat Kick”

Begin with arms held out from your sides at shoulder level and feet together. Raise your left leg out and up as you breathe out. Simultaneously bring your arms forward, keeping them at shoulder level, and round your back as if you were a cat, stretching. Your navel should feel like it is being pressed against your spine. Round back up and open your shoulders as you inhale and are returned to the beginning position. Don’t forget to exercise your right leg and do a total of 20 reps.

Survey Your Eating Habits

If you’ve got stomach fat, you can do exercises for your abs until the cows come home, and those great looking abs will still be hidden behind your fat. If you want that belly fat to disappear, take a long look at your activity level and what you’re eating every day. Opt for healthy meal alternatives like veggies, fruits, and lean protein instead of a fattening steak-and-cheese sub or potato chips; likewise, you need to move around more each day and potentially reduce your portions at mealtime.

Maintain Good Posture

Proper posture is good for body alignment and can help alleviate the aches and pains that sometimes come from office work or long periods of standing. But you might also have noticed that it also makes your stomach look slimmer.

So, how do you get better posture? Start by holding your head up so your ears are aligned with your shoulders. Then align your shoulders over your hips, adjust your hips so they’re over your knees and line up your knees over your ankles. Suck your navel back towards your spine and hold both shoulders open as if they’re a jacket on a hanger not hanging on a peg. Lastly, when you walk your weight should be evenly distributed over your heels and the balls of your feet.

Practice being mindful of your posture at set times throughout the day, and eventually, good posture will become a healthy habit.

Related: Top Four Tips for Better Posture

Execute the “Canoe Twist”

Stand straight with your feet slightly apart. Make a firm grip with your hands by clasping them together at your navel. Next exhale, swing your arms and chest to the right—like you’re rowing a canoe. As you do this, raise your right knee up and move it to the left. Make sure you keep good spinal alignment. Inhale and go back to your start position. Exhale and do the exercise again but switch sides. Keep alternating sides for a total of 20 reps.

Learn the Pilates “Zip Up”

When you start this exercise your heels should be together, back straight and toes pointed out slightly. Lift your forearms up and join your hands below your chin. Push your arms down while exhaling; your arms and hands should be very near to your body as you perform this movement. You’ll notice that your abs will move in and up as your arms move down. As you do this, raise your heels off the floor and hold the pose when you are on your tiptoes for 2 seconds. Go back to the starting point as you inhale. Perform 20 reps.

Related: Is pilates right for you? 

Equipment is Optional

You can throw some life into your fitness routine by using bands and straps, Bosu and stability balls and get a gym membership. Yet none of these things are necessary to obtain a better core—just slip a quick ab workout into your everyday life!

For example, there’s a simple exercise you can do while you’re standing around chatting with your friends, waiting in the checkout line at a store or going for your daily walk. Stand tall with proper spinal alignment, exhale as you pull your navel towards your back and hold for 3-5 seconds. Inhale and repeat. That’s it. See? We told you it was easy!

Take It Slow & Establish Sensible Goals

Your svelte midsection won’t happen overnight. It takes slow, continuous work and be prepared for a few bumps along the way (especially around the holidays). Just be persistent and patient; in time, you’ll have the midriff you want.

It’s also good to note that your genetics can play a big part in how your body is shaped. So, while it’s nice to shoot for the abs of a famous athlete or celebrity, it’s not generally realistic. But just because you can’t attain society’s “perfect” body image, doesn’t mean you should quit! Just adjust your fitness program to what works best for your body.

Now that you know the secrets to fab abs, get out there and go for it!

Try our free beginners guide to jumpstart your abs routine. 

 

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