A flat belly shows that you have a strong commitment to fitness and watch what you eat. The strength and core work required to achieve this enviable look also means you have a stable midsection that wards off injury and keeps you strong in daily and athletic activity.
Getting a flat stomach takes effort, especially if you're starting with a considerable amount of belly fat. A focused workout routine and diet will give you the flat stomach that will make you confident to take off your shirt at the pool or beach.
Lose Fat First
Your abs may be solidly developed, but no one will ever know if they're hidden behind a layer of fat. Men often store excess weight in their middle as visceral fat, a particularly unhealthy type that surrounds your internal organs and releases inflammatory compounds to raise your risk of disease.
As dangerous as this fat is, it's usually some of the first fat a man loses when he begins a serious exercise routine and cleans up his diet. Fat loss happens throughout your body, though, which makes you leaner and healthier, along with giving you a flatter belly.
It's not enough to cut out dessert a few times per week and walk your dog more than once per day. The fat loss required to show off flat abs requires you drop to around 12 percent body fat or lower. The average man has a body fat of about 28 percent. That kind of loss requires serious work.
Reform Your Menu Choices
Induce fat loss by eating fewer calories than you burn. An online calculator helps you determine your current burn rate from which you create a deficit by eating less and moving more. A deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day yields a loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Focus on consuming lean proteins, such as chicken breast and lean steak, and vegetables. Moderate servings of whole grains, fruit and low-fat dairy round out your eating plan.
Your intake of refined grains, sugar, alcohol and saturated fats will need to decrease. A flat stomach takes some planning ahead so most of your meals contain these whole foods.
Increase Exercise Volume and Intensity
A man should consume at least 1,800 calories per day to keep his metabolism stoked, so don't just cut calories to reach your deficit for fat loss. Add more activity and strength training to burn a greater number of calories and build muscle.
Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of cardio, such as jogging or cycling, on most days. Make a few of those cardio workouts consist of high-intensity intervals, an approach to working out that burns fat more effectively, shows research published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Obesity.
High-intensity interval training involves alternating short periods of all-out effort with short periods of recovery. An easy HIIT workout could consist of minute-long sprints alternated with minute-long jogs for 30 to 45 minutes, including warm-up and cool down.
Use high-intensity calisthenic intervals, such as burpees and switch lunges, alternated with strength moves, such as pushups and barbell squats, as another way to perform a HIIT workout. An extra bonus is that you fit both strength and cardio together in one session.
Strength training is also key to fat loss and a flat belly. Strength means more than crunches, twists and hanging leg raises. While ab-specific exercises develop muscle and tone on your stomach, they aren't comprehensive moves.
Lift heavy weights using whole-body moves to build muscle all over your frame. Chest presses, rows, squats and deadlifts are examples of compound exercises that use multiple joints to build maximum muscle.
The greater amount of muscle you have on your body, the higher your calorie-burning potential daily. When you have this higher metabolism, it's easier to drop extra fat and reveal a flat belly.
Get Ample Rest and Recovery
Adequate sleep and recovery between workouts also promotes fat loss and a tauter middle. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours per night for most adults.
When you're working out to achieve body composition changes, this sleep is incredibly important for muscle repair and recovery. Ample sleep also keeps your appetite hormones in check, so you don't binge on foods that undermine your goals.
Rest between workouts is also critical. Leave 48 hours between muscles worked with resistance training. Also feed your muscles with proper post-exercise nutrition that includes about 20 grams of protein and a small amount of carbohydrates. The carbohydrates refill your energy stores while the protein promotes growth and recovery.