If one of your regular New Year's resolutions is to get rid of your jelly belly, but it never seems to happen, help is at hand. Make this year one to remember by finally getting a flat belly.
Look at your diet
Unfortunately, all the ab crunches in the world aren't going to make much difference if your belly is covered in a thick layer of fat. You'll just have super-toned muscles that no one can see - not really the desired effect. Examine your diet and cut out unnecessary treats for a month, such as alcohol, pastries, chocolate, crisps and takeaways. Pair a sensible diet with regular exercise and you'll start to see results within a week.
Once you've had a close look at your diet, turn your attention to your exercise routine. If you're mostly desk-bound during the day and sofa-bound in the evening, it's likely that your belly isn't looking its best. Factor some regular cardiovascular exercise into your day, such as jogging or cycling, to help achieve a flat belly.
Heard of interval training? An interval training workout pushes your body through bursts of high and low intensity exercise, instead of working out at a steady pace. For example, you sprint or cycle as fast as you can for one minute, followed by a two minute recovery period where you run, walk or cycle slowly. You then repeat the high intensity exercise, alternating the pace for 20 minutes. Interval training increases the effectiveness of any cardiovascular workout by burning more calories and challenging your body. If you want a flat belly, try out an interval training programme twice a week to burn off fat fast.
You may already have a great set of abs, but your horrendous posture could be hiding them away. If you slump your shoulders forward or crane your neck to see your computer screen, your belly will compensate by sticking out. Pull your shoulders back and draw your head up to improve the look of your stomach. Try a regular yoga or Pilates class to make you more aware of how you carry yourself - your abs will thank you.
More than a crunch
While doing abdominal crunches every day will help you on the way to a flat belly, they are just one type of stomach exercise. The best way to see results is to combine crunches with moves that work your muscles from different angles, such as the bicycle move, the plank and reverse crunches.
If you're predisposed to bloating then your hard work could be going to waste under a distended belly. Try peppermint oil capsules and fennel tea to help reduce gas, and up your intake of spinach and kale, which can help to prevent trapped wind. Cut out fizzy drinks and take your time over meals to avoid gulping down excess air.
The easiest and most pleasant way to a flat belly is to have a sense of humour. Laughing works the transverse abs - the deepest muscles which are connected to your back - and can help to tone your stomach. Hang out with your funniest friends, rent a comedy or try a laughter yoga class for no-effort exercise.
Is it possible to get a flat belly or is it just a myth? Let us know what you think.
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