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Simple Exercises to Flatten Your Stomach

By Andrea Cespedes

You yearn to easily button your pants or slide a sleek dress over a perfectly flat stomach. Exercise will help you get that trim tummy, but the best options might not include the moves you'd expect.

Abdominal-specific moves build strength, function and toned muscle, but they don't help you lose the fat padding your middle. Simple cardio and strength exercises encourage your body to burn fat, including that surrounding your belly.

Include them alongside a healthy, portion-controlled diet, and your stomach pooch will gradually disappear.

A Simple Cardio Routine for a Slimmer Stomach

Becoming more active all day long helps you burn calories, so you drop the excess weight that makes your belly round and soft. This is as simple as taking a brisk walk for 30 minutes one or two times a day.

Also, make daily tasks involve more activity: Walk the halls of your office, choose the stairs over the escalator and pace while on the phone. Over time, you'll build up your stamina and be ready for more intense exercise that even more effectively helps you burn off belly fat to reveal a flatter tum.

Perform high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, two to three times per week to kick up your fat burning capabilities.

A summary of research, published in the Journal of Obesity in 2011, shows that this type of training induces fat loss more effectively than steady-paced workouts and specifically addresses abdominal fat.

High-intensity interval training may sound technical and complex, but it's really straightforward in practice. You alternate bouts of very intense exercise, such as a sprint, with bouts of easy work, like a walk.

You can easily do such a workout with almost any mode of cardio, including running, cycling, elliptical training or calisthenics. Warm up for 5 minutes at an easy pace, then do a minute of work that makes you feel breathless followed by a minute of easy effort. Alternate 10 to 15 times and cool down.

Strength Training and Fat Loss

Strength training isn't just for those looking to build big, bulky muscles. It's an essential component in fat loss. A body that has more muscle burns more calories during workouts and throughout the rest of your day.

This raises your metabolism, so it's easier to lose weight. Strength-training moves that require the major muscles to work hard also stimulates particular hormones that assist in fat loss.

A strength routine that helps flatten your tummy focuses on more than just crunches. Train all the major muscle groups to see results. A simple routine might include squats, chest presses, pull-ups, dips and lunges.

All of these moves train multiple muscle groups at once— including your abdominals as they help in stabilization. If you have time, add a few abdomen-specific exercises to train the muscles of that region.

When you do lose fat, you'll reveal toned, flat muscles. Planks and bicycle crunches, for example, target the major muscles of the abdomen and can be performed just about anywhere — from the gym floor to your own living room.

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