In an ongoing quest to get a flatter stomach, many people turn to exercise for help, and for good reason: Exercise is the perfect way to burn fat and build muscle for a tighter, firmer midsection. But while pushups can indeed help you strengthen your abs, it's not a magic bullet for getting a flatter stomach. That requires a consistent exercise routine and a healthy, low-calorie diet. Consult your doctor before beginning any new diet or exercise regimen.
How Pushups Target Your Belly
Although they're often thought of as a chest exercise, pushups work muscles throughout your body, including your abdominals. When you perform a pushup, your body uses the muscles in your entire core, including your abs, to stabilize your body and hold your position, the American Council on Exercise explains. Every time you do a set of pushups, you're strengthening your abs, which can give your stomach a firmer and more toned appearance — if you're not carrying excess fat on top.
What It Takes to Flatten Your Stomach
While pushups can help build you ab muscles, they can't truly flatten your stomach. You can't spot-reduce fat in your belly, or anywhere else, meaning that no amount of abdominal exercise will get rid of a flabby midsection, the American Council on Exercise notes. And no matter how strong your abs are, your stomach will still look pudgy if it's covered with a layer of fat. To burn fat and flatten your stomach, you must perform aerobic exercise to burn calories and eat a healthy diet so you're not taking in more calories than your body needs.
Pushups may not be the secret to a flatter stomach, but that doesn't mean you should neglect them and other abdominal exercises. Having a strong core will make your belly appear firm once you're able to get rid of excess fat. Just don't rely on pushups alone to build stronger abs; try a variety of exercises that target the muscles in different ways, including crunches, reverse crunches, planks, bicycle crunches and trunk rotations. To perform a plank, hold the push-up position, with arms fully extended, the same position you would be in at the top of a push-up. Try for at least 30 seconds, multiple sets. The plank engages the core.
To get a flat, toned stomach, try a plan that includes cardiovascular exercise, strength-training and a healthy diet for the fastest results. Do 30 to 60 minutes of intense cardio exercise three to five days per week; the more calories your burn during each workout, the sooner you'll shed the fat in your belly, so try running, high-impact aerobics, rollerblading or equally-intense exercises. Fit strength-training into your workout routine two to three times per week, making sure to focus on a variety of abdominal-targeting exercises. Finally, limit your intake of calorie-dense foods like chips, ice cream, sodas and other junk food to an occasional treat, and fill up on nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fresh produce, lean protein sources and low-fat dairy products instead.