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How to get a flat stomach

Sitting on a beach this summer, I was asked how the woman with the sunbed business managed to get such a flat stomach. Was it the activity? That she didn’t seem to eat anything all day? Or does she do a lot of sit-ups?

With some of you still planning a beach holiday nothing would feel better than stepping out with a feeling of confidence sporting a lean mid-section.

So before we get to the core of how to achieve a washboard stomach with a couple simple steps, let’s look at how the core actually works.

Think of the core as divided into two parts: the inner core which gives us support and the outer core which is like our armour. To flatten that tummy, it is most important to begin to work on the inner core. This is comprised of four major muscle groups, the deep core muscles called the TVA, the muscles running along the spine (multifidus), the diaphragm and the pelvic floor muscles.

The benefits of working the inner core

Apart from a flat belly, there are many benefits of working the inner core. When the inner core is weak and it can no longer support the internal organs, the colon, liver and stomach begin to droop and sag, creating pressure on the uterus and the bladder, which can lead to increased menstrual pain, incontinence and prostate problems. Also, when the inner core sags, fluids flowing through the core become stagnant, increasing the chances of parasites and fungal infections.

A weak inner core sets you up for injury

Without working the inner core muscles beforehand and making the mistake of focusing on the outer core muscles such as the abdominals with say crunches or sit ups, you are basically forming armour on top of a drooping sack which can create an imbalance. When the inner unit is weak, you can’t effectively stabilise your core and are much more likely to get injuries, especially within the lower back. So first we need to begin to strengthen the inner unit supporting and stabilising the spine. To truly achieve this you need make sure the biomechanics around your pelvis are functioning the way they should be, but that is another story!

The 4 point vacuum exercise

This exercise will begin to work the inner core and flatten your stomach. Begin on all fours with your knees directly under your hips and your hands directly under your shoulders. Take a deep breath in and let your belly out towards the floor. Exhale slowly and draw your belly button in towards your spine while simultaneously drawing your pelvic floor muscles up. Hold for at least 10 seconds then relax breath in and repeat for 10 repetitions.

Lower your body fat

Now that you can begin to flatten your core from the inner unit, you can also simultaneously reduce the fat around your stomach by consuming a clean balanced whole food diet.

By working the deep abdominal wall (TVA), this will act like the body’s natural girdle, helping to give you a flat stomach. If you combine this with lower body fat then the result is a flat, lean stomach.


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