A toned, flat tummy is a goal many of us strive to achieve, but endless crunches and ditching all your favorite foods isn’t the right way to do it (and let’s be honest; really has no chance of working—who wants to live like that?). Fortunately, a flat belly can be attained just by incorporating small changes into your day. Here are 25 simple ways to flatten your belly.
1. Take your gossip session on a walk.
Instead of catching up with friends over food and drinks, suggest a reunion on the move—you’re likely to work out 104% harder if you have an exercise buddy. Suggest a weekly walk-and-talk session, form a friendly fitness club, or take advantage of gym specials together. You’ll motivate everyone to get moving while you grow even closer.
2. Try the Roll-Up.
Hold a resistance band taut between hands and lie on the floor face up, with legs extended and arms overhead. Pull abs in, tuck your chin, lift arms toward the ceiling, and roll head, shoulders, and torso up and over your legs as far as you can. Keep heels firmly on the floor and reach hands towards your feet. Pause, then slowly roll back down. Do 5 to 8 reps with 30 minutes of cardio 5 to 6 times a week. (For more super-effective exercises, check out how to use resistance bands.)
3. Make time for cardio.
If you want to burn the most belly fat, a Duke University study confirms that aerobic exercise is the most effective in burning that deep, visceral belly fat. In fact, aerobic training burns 67% more calories than resistance training or a combination of the two, according to the study. If you’re low on motivation, these 31 ways to never skip another workout can help.
4. Try out Spidey moves.
Try the Spiderman Climber: Get into plank position with arms and legs extended, hands beneath shoulders, and feet flexed. Keeping your abs tight, bend your left leg out to the side and bring the knee toward the left elbow. Pause, then return to start. Switch sides. Do 20 reps, alternating sides, with 30 minutes of cardio 5 to 6 times a week.
5. Fight fat with fiber.
For every 10 grams of fiber you eat daily, your belly will carry almost 4% less fat. Thankfully, there are more enjoyable ways to increase your fiber than scarfing down a box of bran flakes: Two apples, ½ cup of pinto beans, one artichoke, or two cups of broccoli will all give you 10 grams of belly-flattening fiber each. (For more tasty fiber ideas, see our 100 Cleanest Packaged Food Awards.)
6. Be pushy at restaurants.
Saying, “I’ll go last” when the waiter comes around could be adding bulk to your belly. A recent study showed that a normal-weight woman was more likely to mimic a thin woman’s eating habits than an obese woman’s. So when you’re out for girl’s night, order first. You’ll keep yourself, and maybe even a friend or two, on track to a flatter tummy. (Avoid other fat traps with 6 ways restaurants try to make you fat.)
7. Do the Windshield Wiper.
Lie faceup with arms out to your sides, palms down, and legs bent at 90 degrees so feet are off the floor. Keep abs tight and slowly lower legs to the left as far as possible, keeping shoulders on the floor. Pause, then return to start. Repeat to the right. Do 20 reps, alternating sides.
8. Suck up the pet hair.
One more reason to follow your shedding pet with a vacuum? Vacuuming is a great ab workout. Tighten your abdominal muscles while you push back and forth for a tighter tummy.
9. Cut back on the pretzels.
Too much salt will make you retain more fluid, which contributes to a puffy appearance and extra water weight. (Avoid these 10 other foods that cause belly bloat.)
10. Fry fat with The Boat Move.
Target your deepest ab muscles with The Boat: Lie face up on a mat with arms straight up over chest. Lift your upper body off the ground by rolling through the spine. At the same time, raise your legs so that you’re balancing on your butt, knees bent and shin parallel to the ground. Slowly roll back down onto the mat, lowering legs. That’s 1 rep. Do 5 reps per set, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
11. Add this green fruit to your diet.
Just half an avocado contains 10 grams of MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), which halt blood sugar spikes that tell your body to store fat around your belly. Eat these in ¼ cup servings to ward off belly fat without overdoing it.
12. Play catch.
Get into a crunch position—lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, shoulders and head off the floor with your abs contracted. Then have someone throw an exercise ball (or basketball) to you—first to your left side so you have to twist and reach to catch it, and then to your right. Do this as many times as is comfortable, and try to increase the number each week.
13. Skip your daily soda habit.
Where do you think all those bubbles from carbonated drinks end up? They gang up in your belly! (Yes, even diet: Check out all 7 Nasty Side Effects of Drinking Diet Soda.) Swap soda, diet soda, and seltzer for Sassy Water, our slimming staple beverage.
14. Get on the wagon.
That glass of wine with every meal may be part of the reason your jeans are too tight. Too much alcohol can raise cortisol levels, sending fat straight to your belly.
15. Paddle off your belly.
Kayaking is an exhilarating, ab-crunching workout. Constant paddling requires lots of twisting and tightness from your abs for long periods of time.