I often get asked about the best way to get a flat stomach or visible abs and> are sit ups the best exercise to get rid of a flabby tummy. Well the answer to that one is no and> the first two questions well here is where it gets complicated. Hopefully though I can try and> simplify it for you, and> give you some tips to help you get the stomach you have been dreaming of!

We’ve all heard it, you can not spot reduce fat so doing a thousand> sit ups a day will not get rid of that excess flab around your tummy. The likelihood is the reason you don’t have a flat stomach or visible abs, is due to excess body fat and> not a lack of muscle! Here is an idea of body fat percentages and> how they may look but please note that not everyone is the same:

Body Fat Percentages

This gives you a bit of an idea of what body fat percentage you may want to be aiming for, and> how it may look, but how do you ensure it is body fat you are losing and> not muscle. Slowly is the best way, you can expect to lose around 1%-3% body fat per month although this can vary widely based on individuals because there are so many variables.

So what do you need to be doing to reduce body fat and> hopefully get the flat tummy you want! Well as already mentioned you can not spot reduce fat so you need to be focusing on whole body training and> doing exercises that strengthen your entire body. A really good way to do this is circuit training. Join a class to get some ideas or just set up your own mini circuits including both strength and> cardio exercises to get the best results. Have a few different exercises say around 5 or 6, complete a set number of reps or work for a specific time on one exercise and> then move onto the next (with little or no rest between exercises) until you have completed all exercises. Have a short rest and> repeat as many times as possible! Easy hey! I would recommend that you include a “Core” strengthening exercise in your circuit and> the one exercise that triumphs over all ab exercises is the plank. It may look simple but trust me it’s tough! To perform a basic plank, begin in a press up position with hand>s directly under your shoulders – legs straight out behind and> feet together. Balance on palms of hand>s and> balls of feet, and> hold this position for as long as you can, focusing on drawing the abdomen into the spine. That’s a plank! And once you have mastered the basic plank there are so many variations you can try, side planks, moving planks, reverse planks, two point planks – the list goes on!

Whilst we are on the subject of planks I wanted to spend a short time talking about why planks are so much better than sit ups. Firstly the plank uses more muscles than sit ups or crunches, crunches really only work the rectus abdominis muscles (the six pack muscles), but what about all the other muscles that make up our core – pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, obliques, and> erector spinae to name a few. The plank works more of these than crunches in particular the rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis and> erector spinae, so more bang for your buck there! And one of the other important issues with sit ups or crunches is the pressure on your back, the sit ups causes the spine to become curved – which is far from ideal and> may cause back pain affecting your workouts. One more plus point for the plank, it builds all the muscles in your core including the deeper muscles that protect your spine. This will help you when it comes to heavier lifts such as squats and> deadlifts as you will have more stability and> strength in your core.

So that’s the exercise side covered, what about nutrition? Well your nutrition is super important when it comes to fat loss, and> without good nutrition you are unlikely to get to the point where you have visible definition around the abdominal area. The basics, cut out junk food, focus on whole foods, cut down on alcohol and> increase water intake – sound familiar?! One more tip when it comes to belly bloating is to reduce your salt intake, as this can lead to water retention and> make your tummy look bigger than it is!

Hopefully this has helped clear up some of the myths surrounding fat loss around your tummy and> given you some ideas on how to achieve that flat stomach you want.