In seven (nearly eight) years of coaching women around the world, one of the most popular questions I get asked is, how to get a flat stomach?
And that’s because it’s not an easy thing to do.
If you’ve tried the diets, the detoxes and the intense cardio, then you already know that a flat stomach is challenging to get.
I know because, on top of helping other women reach their fitness goals, I spent years trying to get a flat stomach with long workout sessions and extreme food restrictions.
But guess what?
You don’t need to do that crazy stuff. In fact, you can get a HEALTHY flat stomach just with the right exercises and healthy NOURISHING meals.
So if you’ve been struggling with the tummy, know that you’re not alone and that this post is going to help you get some answers!
Because I’m going to walk you through what you can do differently to finally get results. Let’s first talk about the ways NOT to get a flat stomach:
If you’ve been doing any of these, that’s ok, most of us have done them too. These are the WRONG things to do but they are also the most popular.
I have a flat stomach but it’s not because of any of these things. In fact, I don’t diet at all. I only do abs about 2x to 3x a week (15 min sessions) and rarely do classic crunches.
And my results are not because of genetics.
Trust me, I am all latina curves and though I love and embrace them - these thick thighs and big hips do not naturally mean a flat stomach if I don’t work for it.
So I’m going to share with you how I do that in a SUSTAINABLE way.
Before you read further, let’s just make sure that you’re in the right place and that you really want the kind of information I’m going to share:
Ok, so if you’re still with me after that, we can go onwards! In this post, you’ll learn:
Ready? Let’s go!
Three times a week for 15 to 30 min. Seriously, that’s it.
If you’re eating healthy, doing the right ab exercises, following a good plan and practice good form, you don’t need more workouts than this.
In fact, once you get to maintenance level, you can reduce ab workouts down to just 2x a week for 15 minute sessions.
Can you do more? Sure, but I don’t recommend doing any more than 4x a week (with rest days between ab sessions.)
One big mistake that I see a lot of women make is that they do MORE ab exercises and longer workouts because they think that more means better and faster results.
Smart training with proper nutrition is all it takes to get results.
In fact, you might be STOPPING yourself from getting results by overtraining. Because your body needs to heal in between workouts.
It’s essential that you take a rest day in between sessions or that you work a DIFFERENT part of your body.
This is why workout sessions are never more than 15 - 30 min and only scheduled a few times a week in my 21 Day Stronger Abs program.
In this section I’m going to share some of the ways that I help women to get stronger, flatter abs. To get a flat stomach that’s actually healthy, you need to do these FIVE things:
Too often, I see people just doing crunches or front facing exercises as a way to get a flat stomach. This is like trying to become a better runner but just running the same exact route every time, at the same pace for the same amount of time. Your body will get used to it!
So, you’ll want to regularly change up how you work the abs in order to get results. And one of the ways that you can do that is by working the abs from multiple angles.
Specifically, I recommend a 180 degree approach - front, back and side. Here are example exercises from my 21 Day Stronger Abs program.
BACK (these will be exercises for opposing muscles - more on that later)
SIDE OR SIDELINE
Make sure that every ab workout you do includes exercises from at least two different angles. If you do that, you’ll avoid injury, get stronger and see better results!
Just as with any part of the body, abs will respond best to CHANGE and VARIETY. Doing the same type of exercises over and over again is not going to get you results.
You’ll end up working way harder than you need to when you could put in half the effort just by adding variety.
I recommend focusing on at least 5 different ab exercises for 4 weeks. After that, you’ll want to swap the exercises for new ones or for more difficult versions (progressions.)
Because my big motto is better results with LESS time and work, I actually go way above this. My 21 Day Stronger Abs program has 50+ different exercises and each week they get harder.
I do this because I know it gets better results for my clients PLUS it’s just more fun with variety!
Have you ever heard that it’s bad to spot train? You shouldn’t just focus on one area of the body even if it’s the one you most want to change?
You shouldn’t spot train because a) it won’t get you results and b) it causes injury. So how do you avoid this? For one thing, you can strengthen the supporting muscles or the muscles around your target area.
If you do this, you’ll get better results with LESS effort because you’ll be able to go deeper into each movement and with less breaks.
So that means to get a flat stomach, you’ll want to target more than just the abs themselves. Important supporting muscles for abdominal exercises include the quads (front thighs above the knees), the hip flexors (what you might think of as top of inner thighs) and the pelvic floor (we’ll come back to this one later.)
Doing exercises that work these supporting muscles is essential in order to get a flat stomach that’s strong and healthy.
Luckily, many ab exercises will also double as training for supporting muscles. Below is an exercise example.
EXAMPLE OF A SUPPORTING GLUTES EXERCISE
Just as with supporting muscles, training opposing muscles will help you to avoid spot training and injury. It will also help you to get better results because you’ll be stronger overall.
Opposing muscles are those that work in opposition to the target area. Think of them as giving off “opposite force.” Important opposing muscles for abdominal exercises include the lower back and glutes (booty!)
Below is an exercise example.
EXAMPLE OF AN OPPOSING MUSCLE GROUP EXERCISE - BACK
Possibly the biggest piece of advice I can give you when it comes to getting better results from your ab workouts, is to focus on pelvic floor activation.
This is a foundational element to stronger, healthier abs. It’s also something that very few people focus on unless they practice Pilates regularly.
The pelvic floor is the essentially a “base” that supports other vital areas - from your bladder to your bowels. To locate it, lie down on the floor, imagine you have to pee and then squeeze to stop yourself. Feel that area of tension?
Now do you want to know how good your pelvic floor activation actually is? Try this test exercise below from my 21 Day Ab program.
If you’re using proper pelvic floor activation, you should be able to rise up all the way. How did you do? If you struggled then that means you can probably benefit from some Pilates exercises in particular!
Now why does pelvic floor activation matter?
Because any ab exercise will be more effective if you understand how to do this. Think of pelvic floor activation as a helping hand that lets you move deeper into exercises, stay in holds for longer and avoid using your neck or back muscles when you get tired.
Proper pelvic floor activation lets you do exercises better, safer and for longer periods of time. It also ensures that your effort is directed towards the right muscular areas.
If you’re curious to learn more about the pelvic floor have a listen of this episode of the Feel Good Naked podcast. I interview Pelvic Floor Expert, Melanie McGray, about how and why the pelvic floor matters for ALL movement.
You cannot get a flat stomach without focusing on nutrition. That means that you can train in all the right ways but your stomach will not get flatter unless you also focus on how and what you eat.
Now, some programs will promote restrictive diets and extreme weight loss to get you that flat stomach. They’ll focus on excessive calorie deficits without really focusing on the importance of nutrients or nourishing your body.
But I won’t do that.
I don’t promote extreme dieting or restrictions because it just does not last long term and it will often create really unhealthy mindsets around food.
PLUS if you want great results then you’ll need to push your body to achieve more during workouts. How can it do that if you don’t have enough fuel?
So, instead, I’m going to share with you where people typically go astray with nutrition (often without realizing it) and how you can eat healthier without dieting.
Here are the top reasons why people struggle to get flat stomachs when it comes to nutrition:
Remember that much of the excess sugar, fat and sodium we consume comes from sauces and condiments, as well as the way that food is prepared. Opting for more whole foods, less oil when cooking and less added sauces or processed foods, makes all the difference!
You’ll also want to watch the WAY that you eat - this includes things like eating past feeling full, eating when not hungry and skipping meals when your belly tells you it needs them.
When it comes to nutrition, every small decision you make will add up (positively or less positively.)
By being balanced in how and what you eat, you CAN get the results you want. No crazy rules or dieting required.
Visible abs and flat stomachs can change WEEKLY based on what you eat. There are weeks where I don’t see my abs. In other weeks, my abs “pop” and look incredibly defined. Often, the only thing that changes is how I’m eating.
Still, I don’t get upset or feel guilty when my abs hide or seem to “go away,” I just get back to healthier eating as soon as I’m ready.
Because part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle is enjoying food. Sometimes that will conflict with having a flat stomach but that’s ok because when you understand how to get results, you can always jump right back in and see progress again.
This blog post should give you enough information to get started! If you’d like a full program with workout videos, weekly training schedule and bonus nutrition guidelines, take a look at my 21 Day Stronger Abs program here.
And any questions let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org
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