Tighten and tone your tummy with a few easy exercises.
The most effective tummy-tightening workout routines combine cardio and strength-training exercises. Cardio exercises increase heart rate and maximize fat burn, while strength-training exercises help build strength and increase muscle tone. When performed three to five times a week, this combination will help you reach your goals faster than either would on its own.
The plank engages your entire core, including the muscles throughout your abdomen and lower back. Get into plank position and hold the pose for 30 seconds. Shift all of your weight onto your right elbow and pivot your body so that it is perpendicular with the ground. Stretch out your left arm toward the ceiling while keeping your abdominal muscles engaged. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and repeat on your left side. If you are a beginner, add a 10-second rest period between each variation.
Burpees are high-impact, weight-bearing exercises that will quickly raise your heart rate and aid in fat loss. They also work major muscle groups throughout your entire body including those in your core, legs and arms. To perform a burpee, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Squat and place your hands on the ground. In one quick motion, kick your feet backward so that you end up in a plank position with your arms straight. Perform one pushup and then jump your legs forward and stand, returning to the original position. Repeat 10 to 15 times to complete one set. Perform three sets with one-minute rest periods between.
The bicycle is an effective exercise for strengthening the rectus abdominus -- the long, flat muscle that runs along the front of your abdomen. To start, lie on your back with your fingers interlaced at the base of your head. Lift both feet off of the ground, slowly bend your left knee and bring it toward your right elbow while engaging your abdominal muscles. Slowly return to the stating position and repeat with your right knee and left elbow, moving your legs in a pedaling motion. Complete three sets of 15 reps to start, increasing the number of reps as you are able.
Mountain Climber and Twisted Crunch
Like burpees, the mountain climber is a high-impact, weight-bearing exercise that aids in fat loss. Start in a standard pushup position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. While balancing on the balls of your feet, bring your right foot between your hands in one quick motion and then switch legs. Repeat this motion for 30 seconds. As you progress, try to build up to one complete minute. To increase the intensity of this exercise, perform it more quickly.
This twisted crunch targets and strengthens your obliques. Lie on your back with your fingers interlaced at the base of your head, your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the ground. Engage your abdominal muscles and slowly lift your shoulders off the ground while reaching your right elbow to your left knee. Keep your back straight to ensure proper form and avoid injury.
Tips and Considerations
Diet can be as important as exercise for flattening and tightening your tummy, and it can lead to improved performance, according the American College of Sports Medicine. Consume nutrient-dense foods to fuel your workout, including fresh vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products and slow-digesting carbs such as whole-wheat bread and quinoa. To avoid injury, warm up with a light, five- or 10-minute jog before performing the exercises described previously. Perform five to 10 minutes of light stretching after the exercises to cool down and help limit muscle soreness. Always consult a doctor before beginning a new fitness regimen.