If you are looking to tone your stomach without losing weight, you may need to shake up your workout routine and you may need to make some dietary changes. The process of toning your stomach may take some time, and you may end up losing some weight along the way.
Cardio for a Flat Stomach
In order to get a flat stomach, you need to shed extra fat around your midsection. Unfortunately, spot reducing fat through exercise doesn't work. You'll need to burn fat on your entire body to reduce your belly fat. Cardio routines can help you burn calories and lose extra body fat.
You don't need to spend hours running on a treadmill to see results. According to a smaller study published in September 2014 in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry, walking briskly three times a week, for 50 to 70 minutes at a time, was enough to help trim fat in the participants.
The fat reduction occurred around both the internal organs and the midsection. The takeaway is that if you increase the number of walks you take each week, this could have a positive effect on your midsection.
If you are already in good shape, but are still trying to flatten your stomach, you may want to consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT burns a large number of calories in a short period of time. In addition, several studies have shown that HIIT helps to decrease fat, which could come off your midsection.
Read more: How to do a HIIT Workout at Home
According to a study published in January 2017 in the Journal of Diabetes Research, people who participated in HIIT routines burned as much fat and gained the same benefits in much less time than those who participated in more traditional cardio workouts. So if you are short on time, or don't want to spend several hours a week running, you may want to add HIIT to your routine a few times a week.
Core and Resistance Training
Core workouts and resistance training will help you tone and flatten your stomach. Exercises that hit your core can help you tone your stomach without losing weight. A strengthened core helps hold your midsection tight. This gives your stomach the appearance of being flatter, without necessarily cutting down on your weight or fat.
Core exercises that can help you tone your stomach without losing weigh and that you can add to your routine to help slim your midsection include:
- Bicycle crunches
- Leg raises
You should not neglect the rest of your body when it comes to resistance training. General resistance training will help your body burn calories when at rest. This can help reduce the amount of fat that may accumulate around your midsection.
Resistance training does not necessarily require you to purchase weights. Several effective exercises use body weight, such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats and lunges.
A study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences in April 2014 examined the effects of resistance training and cardio routines on obese teens. The study found that using both resistance and cardio training is effective in reducing overall fat. This means you may see a slimmer midsection from simply adding resistance training.
Finally, don't neglect your diet. You don't need to follow a calorie-restrictive diet to obtain a flat stomach. You should be mindful of what you are putting into your body. You should avoid excess sugar found in processed food and drinks, such as soda, baked goods, alcohol, fast food, juice and sports drinks. Instead, you should focus on eating a diet that includes lean protein, dietary fiber, fruits and vegetables.
- Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry: "Effect of Walking Exercise on Abdominal Fat, Insulin Resistance and Serum Cytokines in Obese Women"
- Journal of Diabetes Research: "Comparable Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training and Prolonged Continuous Exercise Training on Abdominal Visceral Fat Reduction in Obese Young Women"
- Journal of Sports Sciences: "Aerobic Plus Resistance Training Was More Effective in Improving the Visceral Adiposity, Metabolic Profile and Inflammatory Markers Than Aerobic Training in Obese Adolescents"