Everybody wants a flat stomach, but it takes time and a proper diet to build up your core muscles. Doing crunches helps, but to really get and keep six-pack abs you have to strengthen and tone all of your abdominal and back muscles. That's why the easiest route to a tight tummy is varying workouts and using a combination of exercise equipment.
Exercise Equipment for the Stomach
In most cases, the best equipment to flatten the stomach will also work out your whole body. This is the case with treadmill and elliptical machines. The elliptical is better if you want more of an upper-body workout while you run or have sore joints or weak knees, which can take a beating on a treadmill. The treadmill is the better option if you are thinking of training for a race. If you don't have access to these machines through a gym and are thinking of purchasing one, they can range from $800 to more than $1,000, but you may also be able to purchase a used one on eBay.
Cardiovascular exercise is key to achieving flat abs. Before anyone can notice that you have a flat stomach, you have to burn the layer of fat that covers your abdominal muscles. For the best results, try to do at least a half-hour of cardio a day on either the treadmill or elliptical trainer. All-about-Abs.com recommends using interval training to help burn off calories and strengthen your abs.
Once you complete your 30 minutes of cardio, the best way to tone your abdominal muscles is by doing a range of exercises on a stability, medicine or Bosu ball.
Stability balls are light, large and rubber inflatable balls that are commonly referred to as exercise balls. You want to choose one large enough to sit comfortably on with your back at a 90-degree angle. Stability balls will increase your posture and can help you do crunches and leg extensions more effectively. Crunches in combination with medicine balls can strengthen and define the ab muscles quickly.
Medicine balls look like basketballs but are heavy and stuffed. They can weigh anywhere from 2 pounds to 30 pounds. Medicine balls can also be used for crunches, can be thrown, and can be used in leg extensions and for dead lifts. Most stability and medicine balls come with videos and can be found for around $20 to $30 in any sports store, Target or Walmart.
Another type of ball that can help flatten your stomach is called a Bosu balance trainer or Bosu ball. It looks like a ball cut in half and can increase the intensity of balance exercises such as leg extensions and push-ups. It is particularly good to use if you are doing yoga or Pilates. The Bosu ball costs about $130 and comes with training guides.
Another great piece of equipment to use in conjunction with cardio and toning is the ab crunch machine, which is commonly found in gyms. The machine isolates your stomach muscles and applies weight to your crunches, strengthening your abs. The equipment costs more than $100 but is well worth it if you are looking for that six-pack, bulging-muscle appearance. Make sure you start off at a light weight to avoid straining muscles.
There is a lot of other expensive equipment available for abdominal training out there---such as the Bowflex, Ab Lounger and the Ab Roller---but those listed previously are the basic ones that can help you achieve your goals.
Vary Your Workout
The most important thing to remember when training for a tight tummy is to vary your workout. There are several types of abdominal workouts worth checking out, including those listed at iwantsixpackabs.com and in the Celebrity Workouts section of Fitness Magazine.
It's best to do cardio, toning and strength training only three times a week to give your muscles a chance to rebuild the tissue that was broken down during the workout. "Training every day with endless crunches won't flatten your belly faster," Bill Hartman, co-owner of Indianapolis Sports and Fitness, told Women's Health Magazine. "You'll see benefits quicker if you give your muscles a day to fully recover between workouts."