Fitness: 10 Tummy Flattening Tricks

The first place I gain weight is right in the gut–the ol’ spare tire. The stomach area is the most common place that Americans gain weight. So, when you’re setting up an exercise regimen, be sure to focus some well-deserved attention on those abs.

This article from begins: “A tight, toned stomach tops most women’s wish list. With these 10 exercises from fitness professionals like Denise Austin, you’ll flatten your stomach and say goodbye to your girdle once and for all…”

Here is their wonderful collection of tips from professional fitness experts.

Girl with exercise ball

1. Denise Austin’s Lower Tummy Firmer 

Check out fitness maven Denise Austin’s favorite belly-busting exercise. This core exercise comes straight from her book, Tone Your Tummy Type (Rodale Books). Also visit to learn more.

  1. Lie on your back. Place hands near your hips, palms face down.
  2. Lift your legs, bending at the knee. Cross your legs at the ankles.
  3. Flatten your shoulders against the floor. Draw your abdominal muscles in toward your spine.
  4. As you exhale, curl your tailbone up, lifting through your lower tummy. Inhale as you lower your butt back to the floor.
  5. Repeat 4-6 times.

2. Minna Lessig’s Side Plank

Fitness guru and former Ms. Fitness USA Minna Lessig recommends the side plank for a challenging workout that targets your core, plus your shoulders and arms. Learn more with a copy of Minna Lessig’s book Tank Top Arms, Bikini Belly and Boy Shorts Bottom (Rodale Books).
  1. Start from push-up position.
  2. Tighten abs.
  3. Bring your right hand to the center, halfway between its starting position and your left hand.
  4. Turn body to the left. Shift weight from toes to the outer side of your right foot, stacking your left foot on top of your right.
  5. Lift left arm off floor.
  6. Extend left arm toward ceiling in line with your shoulders. Body should form one, straight line from head to feet, sideways.
  7. Look straight. Hold position for 10-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
  8. Repeat on other side.

3. Jason Anthony Hoey’s Pelvic Tilt

The pelvic tilt is an isometric exercise that works all three muscle sets in your midsection (internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis) to improve joint stability and mobility, overall muscular strength and mind/body awareness, says Jason Anthony Hoey, owner of Chicago personal training company EtaKinisi: Efficient Movement for Healthy, Sport and Fitness.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place a towel under the small of your back.
  3. Tighten your abs.
  4. Press the small of your back into the floor to create a posterior pelvic tile. You should not be able to pull the towel free.
  5. Hold for 6 seconds and release.
  6. Do 6 sets of 4-8 reps.

4. Jason Anthony Hoey’s Superman

You can do hundreds of crunches or buy expensive machines, but if you really want that flat stomach, you need a strong lower back. Hoey’s Superman move will strengthen your lower back to create a balance between your front and back muscles, helping you move gracefully, lift heavier weights, boost your metabolism and build sexy muscles. For more ways to strengthen your back, check out our slideshow: The Better Back Workout.

  1. Lie face down on the floor. Arms should be straight and extended directly over the top of your head. Keep legs straight and together.
  2. Simultaneously lift your arms, chest and legs up toward the ceiling. Keep limbs straight, but not locked. Your body will form a gentle curve.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds, then lower. Repeat 3 times.

5. Minna Lessig’s Twist and Drop

From Lessig’s days as a gymnast, check out this move to target the obliques and rectus abdominus (the long, flat vertical muscle in the front of the abdomen).

  1. Stand with feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend forward at hips. Place hands flat on the floor, directly beneath your shoulders and at least 12 inches from feet. (Hands won’t be in line with feet.
  3. Place feet flat on floor and rise up on your toes. Look at the floor.
  4. Draw navel in toward spine.
  5. Using ab muscles, lift right foot off the floor.
  6. Keeping right leg straight, sweep it across the front of your left foot.
  7. Twist body and lower right hip toward floor so left hip is facing the ceiling and right hip is facing floor. Left knee should be bent, and you should be balancing on the toes of your left foot as well as your hands, which should still be in starting position. Right leg should be straight with your knee in front of your left foot. Look straight ahead.
  8. Using ab muscles, untwist body and return to starting position.
  9. Switch sides, twisting and dropping to the right and sweeping with your left leg.
  10. Do 1-3 sets of 12-20 alternating reps.

6. Jason Anthony Hoey’s Hip/Trunk & Spine Rotation

Hoey recommends this isometric exercise to work all the same muscle groups as the pelvic tilt above, plus the hip flexors. All you need is a bench; even the edge of the coffee table during a Law & Order rerun will do the trick.

  1. Sit upright on a backless chair or bench with feet flat on floor.
  2. Start from an upright position (as you get stronger, begin this exercise from a reclined position to increase the starting difficulty and degree of the angle).
  3. Tighten your abs. Hold.
  4. Rotate slightly to the left. Keep chest pulled up tall toward the ceiling.
  5. Slowly lower your entire upper body backward. Hinge at the hips until you feel a low level of force on your abs.
  6. Hold for 6 seconds.
  7. Do 6 sets of 4-8 reps.
  8. Repeat on your right side.

7. Oscar Smith’s Oblique Sit-ups

Oscar Smith, owner of O-Diesel studios ( in New York City recommends incorporating oblique sit-ups into your workout routine for a toned tummy.

  1. Lie on your back with feet on the floor and knees bent.
  2. Cross your left foot over your right knee. Left ankle should be just below your right knee.
  3. Reach left arm straight out to the side. Bend right arm, cupping your right ear.
  4. Curl your upper body diagonally toward your left knee.
  5. Do 2 sets of 12 reps on each side.

8. Jason Anthony Hoey’s Alternating Arm and Leg Raises

A bit of coordination is necessary for this exercise, but once you get the hang of it, your body will feel the burn as your internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis and hip flexors contract for a full frontal workout, says Hoey.

  1. Lie on your back. Arms and legs should be straight.
  2. Put your left heel on top of your right toes.
  3. Raise your right arm straight up toward the ceiling.
  4. Tighten your abs. Hold.
  5. Lift your left foot two to three inches above your right foot. Hold.
  6. Reach toward your left foot with your right arm by rotating and flexing your trunk.
  7. When you have reached a comfortable end range, hold for one full second. Keep your lower and middle back on the floor.
  8. Maintain a tempo of 3 seconds up, 1 second hold, 3 seconds down.
  9. Do 2 sets of 15-20 reps.

9. Jason Anthony Hoey’s Reverse Crunch

Hoey recommends this version of crunches to whip just about every one of your stomach muscles into shape. Plus, there’s no risk of incorrectly throwing out your neck in your quest for a six pack. Give it a try, and see for yourself.

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Tighten your abs. Hold.
  3. Lift feet off the ground one to two inches.
  4. Slowly pull your knees toward your chest. Hold for one full second.
  5. Lower your knees back down, and return your feet to the ground.
  6. Do 2 sets of 15-20 reps.

10. Cardio Your Core

Contrary to popular belief (or wishful thinking), a bunch of crunches isn’t enough to conquer stubborn belly bulge. “That’s called spot reduction, and it’s not possible without surgery,” Hoey says.

What will take you from fat to flat is a commitment to diverse strength training, a healthy diet and fat-burning cardio (to uncover developing muscle). Try exercises that will burn lots of calories, such as running, biking, swimming or even brisk walking.