The best flat stomach exercise in 7 variations in 2019

Like most people, I always wanted to have a flat stomach. But after years of doing 500 to 1000 crunches a day, I learned that determination is not enough.

Doing bust lifts or thousands or crunches will never be as effective as 10 minutes of this flat stomach exercise that I’m going to introduce you to. And what’s great is that it’s within reach of most of you. You don’t even need any equipment, except maybe a floor mat.

What is the best flat stomach exercise

I’m not going to make you wait any longer.

The plank is one of the best exercises for a flat and toned tummy because it solicits all the muscles of your abdominal strap, including the right muscle, the transverse, the internal and external obliques, hip flexors and lower back.

Why not focus only on the right muscle?

The so-called right muscle of the abdomen (link to Wikipedia) is precisely the one that gives the abdominals its specific shape. We call that aspect the 6-packs in English.

However, it is a pity to focus on this part of the abdominal belt by doing only bust or legs lifts. Strengthening all the abs muscles is not only crucial to getting a flat stomach, but also for all the sports you practice and all your daily activities.

Work the entire abdominal strap

The abdominal, transverse and lumbar muscles ensure the cohesion of your entire body as they serve as a link between the upper and lower body. They also reduce back pain and improve posture.

In addition, planks burn more calories than other abs movements because they also recruit leg muscles, arms and buttocks. It’s really the best toning exercise and a formidable ally to lose belly!

This does not mean that other abdominal exercises are useless, far from it. I often incorporate in my training bicycle crunches, mountain climbers and crunches on my knees. They will help you develop stronger, more powerful and bulkier abs.

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But if your primary goal is to have a flat stomach and a slim waist, nothing is more effective than doing planks and having a proper diet. Especially if you have to lose weight to be healthy!

7 variations of planks to have a flat stomach

Now is the time to get serious and discover the variations of this flat stomach exercise that you need to add to your fitness program as soon as possible.

Of course, if you have any doubts about your ability to perform this physical activity safely, consult your GP first. You can also read this article which explains what it takes to get back to sport in good conditions.

The following exercises are not only useful for losing belly. They will improve your daily posture while drastically increasing your strength. They may seem simple at first glance. But if you think again about it, they require a lot of resistance and balance.

1. Best flat stomach exercise: RKC plank

Flat stomach exercise - RKC abdominal plank

Position yourself as if you were going to do push-ups, but bend your elbows and place your weight on your forearms rather than on your hands. Your body should form a straight line between your shoulders and ankles.

Contract your abs, including the right abdominal, as if you were going to receive a blow to the stomach. Also contract your quadriceps (the front of the thighs) and your buttocks. Push your shoulders forward and squeeze your feet together. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, breathing deeply.

2. Plank with leg lift

Raised leg plank for flat stomach

As in the previous exercise, put yourself in a plank position on your forearms with the contracted abs.

Contract the glutes to lift and hold one leg up, your foot bent forward. Make 10 lifts on one side, then change legs for 10 repetitions. If you still have some energy, repeat 2 sets of 10 until you finish your 30 to 60 seconds.

Don’t try to lift both legs at once, it doesn’t work… (kidding) Yes, I know, I’m hilarious:)

3. Side plank

Abs - side plank

Lie on your side with your legs outstretched. Lift your body on your forearm on the ground side, feet stacked.

Lift your hips until your body forms a straight line between your ankles and shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds (or a minute if you can). Keep your abdominals contracted and breath deeply for the duration of the exercise.

Switch sides and do the same. I’m warning you: it is not easy.

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4. Side plank with leg lift

Start in the side plank position (see number 3). Follow this video first to see the movement:

Keep the abdominal strap muscles contracted as you lift the upper leg as high as possible while keeping your body straight. Bend your foot and point your toes slightly down.

Rest your leg and repeat until you have finished 10 repetitions. Change sides and do 10 reps with the other leg. Hard!

5. Outstretched arms plank

outstretched arm plank to lose belly fat

Position yourself as if you had just finished a push-up with your hands on the ground and your arms outstretched.

Stretch your legs, all your weight on your toes. Your body should form a straight line between your ankles and your head. Contract your abs, quadriceps and glutes to keep the body straight.

Hold this position for 30 seconds (or 1 minute if you can).

6. Outstretched arm plank with shoulder touch

Take exactly the position of #5 and contract the muscles as explained.

Push to keep your shoulders moving and keep the body as straight as possible. Keeping your hips still (not easy), raise one hand and tap the opposite shoulder. Slowly bring your hand to the ground and repeat with the other hand. Continue alternating for 30 to 60 seconds.

7. Outstretched arm plank with alternating arm lift

Here’s a video to help you first:

Return to the same starting position as the previous two exercises.

But instead of hitting the opposite shoulder, you’re going to lift and straighten an arm, with your thumb up. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds, then switch arms.

Continue to alternate until your time is up (or you are dead) by keeping your hips still for the duration of the exercise.

How to use them for your sessions

Start with the first 4 flat stomach exercises,trying to hold 30 seconds to a minute (you’ll see why in the next part). Rest for 15 to 30 seconds between sets. Make each plank variation once, then repeat the entire series again twice (i.e. 3 times in total).

Rest for 1 to 2 minutes when you have finished a series of 4 planks. If you can’t do it at first, don’t get discouraged. Do what you can. Repeat these series 3 times a week.

When you feel comfortable with the first 4 planks, gradually incorporate the next 3. For a killer workout, combine the 7 into one routine.

In order to work in good conditions, buy a comfortable floor mat like this one:

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Why hold a minute during these abdominal exercises

To lose belly fat, experts suggest sticking to the goal of holding the plank for about 60 seconds at least 3 times. However, if you are a beginner, a minute can be a big challenge, but you should not let go. You’ll get there little by little;)

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Conversely, if you are a plank pro (perhaps a carpenter-cabinetmaker ;)), there is no point in maintaining your position for more than a minute. Unless you’re looking to break a world record.

Conclusion on this tone and flat stomach exercise

Whatever the duration, the most important thing is that you hold the correct position, perfectly straight body. This is essential for the best result.

Of course, the taut body is probably the best for muscle strengthening of the abdominal strap. But always keep in mind that exercises for a flat stomach and getting rid of your abdominal fat won’t do much for you if you don’t have a good diet.

Come on, take on the challenge for a muscular belly and share your experience by leaving a comment.

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Stéphane Vierge

Coach fitness et nutrition, je suis un passionné de sport depuis que j'ai pu m'y mettre à l'âge de 16 ans seulement en raison d'importants problèmes de santé (défenses immunitaires déficientes, crises violentes d'asthme, rythme cardiaque trop élevé, hyperlordose, etc.). La musculation m'a permis de rattrapper un grand retard dans ma croissance musculaire et pulmonaire à cette époque. Aujourd'hui, à 52 ans, je pratique toujours la musculation et le fitness 4 à 5 fois par semaine pour garder la forme. C'est déjà pas mal !
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