Your hours spent doing crunches do have core-improving benefits, but one exercise creates the appearance of a flatter stomach. The best thing about this exercise is you can do it anywhere. Improve the look of your abdomen while standing in line at the grocery store, watching television or driving. The reason you can perform the exercise in various places is it does not create a lot of movement in your core. It focuses on the transversus abdominis, which is the deepest layer of core muscle. The muscle fibers of the TA run horizontally across your mid-section and tighten like a corset when contracted, giving you the appearance of a flatter tummy.
Stand or sit with your back straight. Relax your shoulders. Breathe deeply at a comfortable pace.
As you exhale, tighten your core by pulling your navel toward your back. Imagine you are trying to fit into a tight pair of pants and have to suck in your stomach.
Maintain this tightened position for 10 seconds as you breathe normally. Release your tight stomach. Repeat the exercise three to five times. As your strength improves, gradually increase the duration you remain in the tightened position so your TA contracts and builds strength to remain in this flattened state.
Perform the exercise daily -- many times throughout the day -- for the best flattening benefits. Do this while washing the dishes, talking on the phone or sitting at a computer.
Use this contracted position during your other abdominal exercises once you are comfortable with it. For example, lie face up on the floor with your knees bent. Tighten your TA and then perform your traditional abdominal crunches by raising your head and shoulder blades off the floor.
Use a TA stability-training exercise to increase the appearance of a flatter stomach. Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent. Tighten your TA and press your lower back into the floor. Remain in that position as you raise the 90-degree angle formed by your bent right leg toward your chest. Lower your right leg and repeat the exercise with your left leg. This trains the TA to remain stabilized and contracted during movement. Perform 10 to 12 leg raises on each side.
Perform crunches and stability exercises on a daily basis to flatten your abdominals.