A flat belly is a badge of honour. It’s an outward sign that you keep fit and watch what you eat.
And beyond the vanity aspects, a more chiseled torso makes you stronger and less prone to injury.
That’s because the dozens of muscles between your shoulders and hips are involved in every movement you do.
To create a lean, rock-hard waist you need to start with the right moves, says Men's Health Fitness Director BJ Gaddour.
“Choose moves that sculpt your six-pack abs while shredding the fat that covers them,” he says. “It’s the perfect one-two punch for a flat belly.”
Start with the following 5 exercises to hammer the dozens of muscles between your shoulders and hips and get better metabolism at the same time.
If you want to lose your gut, you need to work as many muscles as possible. The burpee does just that. The explosive exercise – which entails going from a pushup position to a jump and back to a pushup position – hits every muscle from head to toe.
In fact, a recent study from the American College of Sports Medicine found that 10 fast-paced reps are just as effective at revving your metabolism as a 30-second all-out sprint, so you can burn your belly fat faster than ever before.
DO IT: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your palms rest on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Kick your legs backward into a pushup position, perform a pushup, and then quickly reverse the movement and perform a jump when you stand. That's 1 rep.
Think of the mountain climber as a moving plank. You perform a mini crunch when you explosively draw one knee into your chest.
What makes this move so difficult, however, is that your core has to work overtime to keep your body stable and straight every time you lift a foot off of the floor, according to Gaddour.
“You can also do it interval-style, making it a serious conditioning move to ramp up your heart rate and burn a ton of calories,” he says. For example, do as many reps as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 and repeat for 4 minutes.
DO IT: Assume a pushup position with your hands below your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from your head to your heels. This is the starting position. Lifting your right foot off of the floor, drive your right knee towards your chest. Tap the floor with your right foot and then return to the starting position. Alternate legs with each repetition.
The kettlebell swing might be one of the best calorie-torching exercises of all time.
“In order to propel the heavy ball of iron, you need to engage big fat-burning muscle groups like your glutes, hips, and quads,” explains Gaddour.
The explosive nature of this movement skyrockets your heart rate right away, but it also hammers your core.
“The momentum of the bell at the top of the swing will try to pull you forward, so you have to clench your abs as if you were performing a standing plank,” says Gaddour.
DO IT: Bend at your hips and hold a kettlebell with both hands at arms length down in front of you. Rock back slightly and “hike” the kettlebell between your legs.
Then squeeze your glutes, thrust your hips forward forcefully, and swing the weight to shoulder height. Reverse the move between your legs and repeat.
If you haven’t used a medicine ball since high school, you’re missing out. “Your core is your center of power, so performing explosive movements like the med-ball slam requires all the muscles between your neck and your hips to work together,” says Sean De Wispelaere, an expert coach for Men's Health.
And if you pick up the pace and propel the ball with more power and velocity, you’ll elevate your heart rate and burn some serious belly flab, he says.
You don’t even need to increase the weight. A 3-kilo medicine ball will work just fine if you go hard and push yourself.
DO IT: Hold the ball above your head with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slam the ball on the floor as hard as you can. Catch the rebound and repeat.
Hold the ball above your head with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slam the ball on the floor as hard as you can. Catch the rebound and repeat.
Add a dumbbell overhead during a lunge, and you suddenly have a core chiseler.
“As the load shifts with every rep, all of the muscles in your torso need to work together to keep the weight directly above you,” says Tony Gentilcore, strength coach at Cressey Performance.
The move engages your back and butt, too, because hunched shoulders and weak glutes also contribute to a bulging belly.
DO IT: Grab a pair of medium- to light-weight dumbbells. Press the dumbbells overhead so your palms face each other. Be careful not to scrunch your shoulders up by your ears.
Step forward into a lunge position, pause, and then bring your back leg forward to step your feet together. Alternate legs as you walk forward.