If you feel you're doing all the right things to shift a flabby belly—we're talking eating the right things, avoiding the wrong things, exercising etc.—and your stomach still isn't where you want it to be, you might need to do more targeted exercises that zone in on your core to help blitz belly fat and tone it up. Sound good? We thought so.
That's why we got Holly Newman of The Real Healthy Mum to share her top tummy-toning exercises so that we can get going immediately. And the best news is that you can do them anywhere (within reason), you need zero equipment and you don't have to be some sort of endurance athlete to do them. Just carve out 20 minutes, four times a week, put on your best power anthems and get them done. Your waistline will thank you for it.
"It's so important to warm your body up for exercise, it will help you avoid injury and get you in the right frame of mind," says Holly.
- March on the spot for 60 seconds—remember to use your arms and keep your shoulders back.
- Roll your shoulders forward and backward 10 times. Place your hand at the top of your arm and do slow circular motions.
- Next, it's 10 leg swings—hold on to the wall, and extend your leg forward and backward, keeping abdominals tight.
- Then it's on to side steps for 60 seconds. Step your right foot to the side, and then bring the left foot to meet it. Then step back to the left, and bring the right foot to meet the left. Keep your arms extended forward.
- Straight after that, it's eight walk-outs. Put your feet together with soft knees. Slowly reach down and place your hands in front of your feet, and then slowly walk your hands out into plank position. Draw your belly button back towards the spine to keep your abdominals tight, and then walk the hands back to the feet, stand up and repeat.
- Finish by jogging on the spot for 60 seconds.
1. Side Lunge With Windmill Arms
"These are a brilliant low-impact cardiovascular exercise that works the abdominals and transverse abdominals (core), quadriceps (legs) and glutes and the deltoids and arms, too. You want to do 20 reps, and it should take you approximately four minutes in total.
"Stand with your legs a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold your arms straight out to the side parallel to the floor. Bend your right knee into a side lunge whilst bringing the left hand to the inside of your right foot and the right arm extended to the side. Transfer your weight onto the left leg, and bend to a left side lunge whilst bringing the right hand to the inside of the left foot and extending the left arm to the side."
"Remember to draw the belly button back towards the spine to engage your abdominals, keep knees soft and aim for quick, smooth fluid motions."
2. Mountain Climbers
"These are excellent for combining strength and cardiovascular exercise in one. It works the obliques and abdominals (core), biceps and triceps (arms), quadriceps and hamstrings (legs), and it's a fantastic calorie burner.
"Start in a plank position, making sure your wrists are underneath your shoulders. Bring your right knee into the chest, and then change. Bring the left knee into the chest, and repeat 30 times. Make sure you keep your abdominals engaged, and remember to draw your belly button back towards your spine. This will switch on your core muscles, prevent bouncing and will keep your hips and spine in line."
3. Alternating Cross-Toe Touch
"These are really good for targeting the rectus abdominis (six-pack) and obliques and a great toning exercise.
"Lie on your back with your legs raised vertically. Keep your knees soft and feet together. Raise your arms up with your fingers pointing towards the ceiling. Raise your shoulders off the ground, and touch the outside of your right foot with your left hand. Lower your shoulders back down slowly, keeping them off the ground. Then touch the outside of your left foot with your right hand. Keep repeating for 20 reps."
Keep your knees soft and legs as still as possible. If you find this too hard, then lie on the floor with your knees bent, hands on your thighs and curl up into a crunch.
"These are not many people's favorites—because they're so tough—but if you really want to blitz the belly fat, try slotting them into your workout. They work major muscle groups in the legs, arms, core, hips, and chest, in addition, they are a superb cardiovascular exercise.
"Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart arms at your side. Push your hips back and bend knees into a squat position. Put your hands on the ground directly in front of you with your weight forwards onto your arms. Jump your feet back into a plank position, landing softly on the balls of your feet. Jump your feet back towards the outside of hands, and jump up. Remember to land softly, keeping abdominals tight to keep a neutral spine when in the plank position. You want to aim for 10 burpees in total—sorry."
5. Dead Bugs
"I love dead bugs because they are easy to check your form by ensuring your back is flat against the mat, carpet, grass or wherever you're working out. They work the transverse abdominals, multifidus, diaphragm and pelvic floor (the muscles supporting the lower back).
"Lie on the floor (or a mat, carpet or grass) with knees up off the ground at a 90-degree angle. Draw your belly button down towards the mat, ensuring the back is flat. Extend your arms, and point your fingers towards the ceiling. Extend your left arm back, and extend your right leg forward. Then, extend the right arm back, and extend your left leg forward. Repeat for 20 reps."
"The slower you do this movement, the more intense it will feel, and remember to keep your back flat."
"After that, you have earned your cool down," says Holly.
- Start by marching on the spot for two minutes, and then it's time to stretch. This should take about five minutes, and aim to hold each stretch for a count of 10.
- Lie on the floor. Reach your hands above your head, point your toes and tense your abdominals.
- Next, pull your right knee gently into the chest, holding your knee with both hands, and then repeat on the left.
- Sit up, and draw the soles of your feet together, opening the knees.
- Then roll over so you're facing down, pick up your right ankle and hold; change, and pick up your left ankle and hold.
- Sit back onto the heels into child's pose (with your arms outstretched in front of you and your face flat on the floor) and hold.
- Stand up slowly into standing position with soft knees, extend your arms to shoulder height and open out to the sides and hold.
"Make sure you drink lots of water, and if any exercises are painful, stop."