We all have our own personal relationships with that silly area right below the belly button. It bulges, sags, bloats, rolls and generally drives many of us crazy. But here’s the thing… It’s there for some reason. If you can’t figure out why it won’t go away, despite your diet and exercise efforts, don’t despair. The core muscles actually create the look of a flatter tummy and can take inches off your waist. Follow these simple core exercises and you will be well on your way to get rid of your stubborn belly fat.

The 3 Core Exercises Athletes Practice Daily To Keep a Flat Stomach

1. Breathe Properly

Many of us have poor breathing patterns that we aren’t even aware of. It’s important to make sure you are breathing correctly. Did you know your breathing is a great indicator of how well your core muscles work? Let’s check your breathing right now with a simple exercise.

Correct Breathing Exercise

While sitting or lying down place one hand over your chest and the other hand over your belly. Take a deep breath in.Core_breathing _therightfitfitness If you felt your top hand primarily rise, this indicates a shallow breathing pattern (upper chest breather). This is a possible indicator that your diaphragmatic muscles may not be actively stabilizing your torso (as they should). Instead, your lower hand should rise and fall evenly as well as your rib cage expand to the side.

Practice:

2-3 times per day for 2 minutes.

2.   Connect to Your Core

Now that you are working on your diaphragmatic breathing, let’s create a mind-body connection to those deep core muscles. Did you know proper breathing improves pelvic stability, posture, and athletic performance.

Exercise

Take a deep belly-breath in. As you exhale, think of gently turning on your pelvic floor muscles or stopping the flow of urine (kegels). For men, think of walking into cold water up to your hips. It’s like gently drawing everything up inside of you.  Do this slowly so you don’t brace. Essentially, it should feel like you have pulled a piece of saran wrap across your lower belly from hip to hip. It is only about a 15% contraction.

  • No bracing through your rib cage
  • No change to your pelvic position (no pulling your bum under or flattening back)
  • No holding your breath

Notice that your tummy feels flatter and tighter?

Practice:

2-3 times per day for 2 minutes.

3.  Activate Your Core

Now that you are more connected to your core, it’s time to really activate your core muscles.

Exercise

Lie on the floor face up, knees bent, and feet together.  Take a deep breath in and slowly set your core (see ‘activate your core’ above). Place your fingers on your hip bones, then slowly ‘levitate’ one of your feet. I say levitate as ‘lift’ seems to make everyone brace like their foot is super heavy and needs major brace stabilizing. Think of turning all your other muscles off first, then lift your heel first and let your foot float off the floor. No need to lift it high. The moment that it leaves the floor, there should be absolutely no movement in your hips. Just pure stabilizing with your core.

Things to make sure of:

  • No side to side or up and down movement
  • No bearing rib cage down into floor
  • No breath holding or back flattening
  • No belly ‘mountain’ forming inside your hips

Remember your saran wrap from the core set?  Keep that taught. Slowly lower your foot, reset your core if you need to, and try the other side.  This is the part where it will help you greatly to connect your mind to your body and visualize the flat tummy you are trying to achieve. You may find lifting one foot is easier than the other. That is quite common. We often have dominant patterns in our daily lives that make one side stronger than the other. If that is the case, start and end the exercise with the weaker side, bringing it up to par with the dominant side.

Practice

2-3 times per day for 2 minutes.

Practice, Practice, Practice

You need to learn to walk before you can run. If you can’t stabilize through this movement, you won’t likely stabilize properly in a standing position let alone a challenging exercise. The mind-body connection is important and once you get it your core should be firing subconsciously – and you will be well on your way to a flatter tummy and functional torso! Practice makes perfect. You can always work on getting these exercises a little tighter, and there are many progressions that I can teach you to keep it interesting.

Nail these exercises and I guarantee you will get more out of your workouts and abdominal programs!

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Written by Dawn Joseph
Dawn Joseph is an Online Personal Trainer who focuses on form and function! She loves to travel and eat bacon. Train with her online or ask her a question here.