Four Exercises to Flatten Your Abs

The abdominal muscles can be some of the hardest to tone, but a strong core is crucial for a strong body. Here are some of the best exercises to strengthen and define your core. Use the exercises listed to create a circuit or incorporate them into an already existing workout.

#1: Boat Pose
This is a standard pose in many yoga practices but can be used as a singular abdominal exercise as well.

How to do it: Sit on the floor or an exercise mat, with your knees together and bent. Tilt your body back and lift your feet off the floor. Straighten your arms and your legs, while keeping your core engaged and back straight. Essentially you want to form a “V” shape with your body. Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute. Make sure you keep your breath even throughout the duration of the exercise.

#2: Plank
Another common exercise in the abdominal world, and a great one to strengthen all aspects of your core. It’s very important that your form is perfect in this exercise to avoid injury.

How to do it: There are a few variations of planks, it’s up to you which you prefer. For a forearm plank lay on the ground or an exercise mat with your belly on the floor. Prop yourself up on your forearms and toes with palms flat on the ground. Your body should be perfectly in line. Sometimes it can help to practice in front of a mirror until you get your form down. You can also do a plank in more of a pushup position. With this keep your body in line the same but you’ll be propped up on your hands and toes, with arms extended. There are also side plank variations as well. Try to hold whichever plank position you choose for 30 seconds to one minute.

#3: Reverse Press Up (aka Reverse Crunch)
This is a great move to strengthen those pesky lower abdominal muscles. It is essentially the opposite of a traditional crunch move.

How to do it: Lay on your mat or floor, with your arms resting comfortably at your sides, palms faced down. Raise your legs together and keep your knees slightly bent and your feet flexed. Next, press your feet upwards towards the ceiling, sky, etc., in a crunch motion. Contract your lower abs and keep your back as flat against the floor as possible. Generally 10-15 of these will be enough to really make your abs burn.

#4: Bicycle
A great move to target obliques and lower abs.

How to do it: Lay on your mat or floor with your hands behind your head. Lift your upper body off the floor, keeping your body as straight as possible. Lift your legs off the floor as well and alternate touching your elbows to the opposite knee, bending your leg to meet your elbow. Try doing 20 on each side.