Guest Article by Fitness Expert and Triathlete Ben Greenfield
Whether it’s a sign of health, beauty, virility, or movie star status, a flat stomach is something that many people all over the world crave. This is because a flat stomach is so hard to get. It can indicate full-body strength and it is essential to powerful performance.
In this article, you’ll learn how to get a flat stomach safely, effectively, and with zero liposuction involved.
How To Get A Flat Stomach
Despite what many folks appear to believe, six-pack abs are not six soda-can shaped muscles that sit under the skin of your stomach, somehow magically filling and emptying as you become more or less fit.
Instead, your stomach muscles are made up of four basic groups that, like most muscles, appear to be named by ancient Latin monks:
- The rectus abdominis: The rectus abdominis is one big sheet of muscle tissue that runs from your breastbone down to your pelvis.
- The external obliques: The external obliques run from your ribs to your hips in a forward direction.
- The internal obliques: The internal obliques run from your ribs to your hips in a backwards direction.
- The transverse abdominis: The transverse abdominis is located deep in your abs, underneath the obliques.
The key to better abs, which most people neglect when trying to get a flat stomach, is a training program that targets each of these muscles, and not just one of them. You simply can’t train just one single muscle group of the stomach in isolation and expect for your abs to look fit, trim, toned, ripped or flat. Instead, you need to train all the stomach muscles in a functional, multi-muscle manner.
This is same reason why people who want nice arms can’t just do bicep curls, but also need to do pull-ups and deadlifts. And that’s why people who want a better butt can’t just do lying hamstring curls, but also need to exercises do squats and lunges. The body responds best when we train entire muscle groups that surround our “trouble spot,” and not just the isolated trouble spot. People who want a flat stomach can’t only do crunches.
So if this type of multi-muscle training is a goal, what would a flat stomach workout look like?
Flat Stomach Exercises
You should work your stomach muscles every 2-3 days, including abdominal exercise as part of a scheduled cardio workout or weight training workout. For your flat stomach training you should include one exercise for each of the abdominal muscle groups and also one exercise for your lower back. Here is a guide to choosing the proper exercises:
- Rectus abdominis: For your rectus abdominis, exercise choices include flexing motions of the spine, such as crunches and crunch variations, V-ups, sit-ups and sit-up variations, hanging leg raises, or knee-ups. Front planks are also quite good for this muscle group.
- External and internal obliques: Twisting and rotating motions are good exercises because they work both the external and internal oblique muscles. That is because if you rotate to your left, your left external oblique and your right internal oblique are doing the work, and vice versa. Twisting motions include Russian Twists, Cable Torso Twists, and the WoodChopper.
- Transverse abdominis: The transverse abdominis is an interesting muscle group, because it doesn’t really move you through a range of motion as much as support the stomach and the gut. So when you suck in your stomach, that’s the transverse abdominis muscles working. Although you can work this muscle group anywhere, such as sucking in your stomach while you’re driving in your car, sitting on an airplane, or standing in line at the grocery store, you can also make it work pretty hard with an exercise like front planks.
- Low back muscles: Finally, the low back muscles can be worked with a simple contraption at the gym that allows you to do low back extensions or, if you’re not at a gym, you can do back extensions on a stability ball, or from the floor by lying on your stomach and lifting all four limbs off the ground.
During a typical flat stomach workout you would include several sets of a flexing exercise, a twisting exercise, a planking exercise and an extending exercise.
Get Rid of Stomach Fat
No matter how well you’ve developed your stomach muscles, you need to get rid of layers of stomach fat that can cover up your abs. Here are three tips to get rid of that last little bit of flab around your waistline:
1) Be sure you’re using a well-rounded workout routine, which includes what I call the “3 Pillars of Exercise”:
- Pillar: Weight Training
- Pillar: High-Intensity Cardio Intervals
- Pillar: Aerobic Fat-Burning Sessions
Weight training alone or cardio alone is often not enough to erase that last bit of storage fat, so use the modes above in your training routine.
2) Control stress and get adequate sleep. Often bloating and inflammation are a primary cause of a puffy stomach or a little extra padding on the waistline. Use stress-reduction techniques and try to sleep 7 to 8 hours each night whenever possible.
3) Eliminate or significantly moderate the big three belly fat triggers: high-sugar, starchy foods (yes, that includes wheat); processed, packaged foods; and alcohol. I’ve witnessed these simple changes produce visible stomach fat reduction in just 2 to 4 weeks.
Using the tips in this article, you can get the perfect musculature for a flat stomach, develop a functional core that gives you powerful physical performance, and lose belly fat.
Here is a link to Ben’s Tri-Ripped program. In full disclosure this is a paid affiliate link. It is geared more toward triathletes but he says many runners have purchased the product as well.