The Best Exercises to Pull In Your Stomach

Young beautiful woman exercising outdoors
A woman is doing core exercises. (Image: nd3000/iStock/Getty Images)

Ask a handful of people why they want to exercise, or which body part they most want to change, and the majority will likely answer that they want to flatten their stomachs. While your genetic composition may or may not allow you to fully flatten your stomach, exercises that simultaneously engage all the muscles in your core, meaning your abdominals, obliques, pelvis and back, will strengthen and lengthen your muscles, giving you a more defined, pulled-in looking stomach area. Perform the following exercises three times per week along with cardio to reduce overall body fat.

Plank

Lie face down on a yoga mat or other non-slippery surface and push your body up so that you are supporting yourself with your forearms, elbows and toes. Keep your body in alignment with a straight, flat back, and your abdominals contracted. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders. Be sure to keep breathing and hold plank for 20 to 30 seconds. Rest for one minute, then repeat plank three to five times. If you are just beginning abdominal work, feel free to bend your knees and keep them on the floor until you are strong enough to perform plank with straight legs. When you are ready to move on to high plank, perform plank on your hands rather than on your forearms by placing your palms on the floor with your hands directly under your shoulders.

Plank With Rotation

Begin in high plank position, back flat, up on your toes, palms down with your hands directly under your shoulders. Press your right hand into the ground and rotate your left arm, hips and legs upward toward your left. Your arms will create one long line. Pause, then rotate your left arm back down and repeat on the other side with your right arm going up. Do three to six rotations on each side.

Reverse Crunch

Lie on your back, pull your belly button inward and lift your legs in the air, drawing them and your pelvis up toward your ribs. Lower your hips slowly back to your starting position then repeat for a total of six to ten repetitions. Rest for 30 to 45 seconds, then perform one or two more sets of reverse crunches. If you are a beginner exerciser, keep your knees slightly bent as you crunch your pelvis to reduce resistance until your abs and back are stronger.

Medicine Ball Lift with Rotation

Begin by standing with your feet wider than hip distance apart, holding a medicine ball or dumbbell in your right hand by your right hip. Push your hips back as you bend your knees into a slight squat, keeping your spine straight. Then push upward from both feet and rotate your right foot and right hip inward, lifting the weight or medicine ball up across your chest in a diagonal line up above your left shoulder. Return to starting position. Perform 10 to 12 repetitions on the right side, then switch to your left side. Rest for 30 to 45 seconds then repeat for one or two more sets.

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