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How to Get a Flat Belly and Say Bye-Bye to the Pooch

Forget the Muffin Top: How to Ditch Your Pooch

We are pumped to share one of our fave stories from Self here on FitSugar!

As of this past weekend, Spring is finally, officially here — along with panic about the upcoming bikini season.

When it comes to shaping up your abs, you want to combine a healthy, diet with high-intensity cardio and moves that target your deep abdominal muscles — aka the transverse abdominus. When strong, these babies work like an invisible girdle, pulling everything up and in. Result: A flat belly without the Spanx!

We asked exercise physiologist Amy Dixon, group fitness manager at Equinox in Santa Monica, CA, for some of her favorite moves to tame the lower abdominal area — or as we like to call it, the "pooch."

Stability Ball Rollout
Kneel on the floor behind a stability ball. Place your forearms on top of the ball, hands clasped to start. Contract your abs and roll the ball forward as far as possible without bending back or hunching shoulders (shown above). Hold for 2 counts, then return to start for one rep. Do 2 sets of 15 reps.

Stability Ball Jack Knives
Get in push-up position with your shins elevated on a stability ball. Your body should form a straight line from the top of your head to your heel. Brace your abs to prevent your midsection from sagging toward the floor. Slowly pull your knees toward your chest. Straighten legs to roll the ball back to start and complete the rep. Do 2 sets of 14 reps.

See how planks can help you tone your belly.
Planks — Every Which Way

  • Traditional Plank: Get into a modified push-up position with your weight resting on your forearms and toes. Your elbows should be positioned directly below your shoulders. Hold for 60 to 90 seconds. Relax for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat. To make it harder, try it with one foot lifted or one arm extended. Then, when you're feeling really strong, try lifting one arm and the opposite leg at the same time.
  • Side Plank: Lie on your left side with your right leg stacked on top of your left, and your upper body propped up with your left forearm. Your elbow should be directly below your shoulder and your upper arm should be perpendicular to the floor. Place your right hand on your hip. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. Relax, switch sides and repeat. That's one set, do two. To make it progressively more difficult, lift your free hand overhead or raise your non-weight-bearing leg. Feeling super strong? Lift both at the same time so your body roughly creates an "X."

How do you deep-six your pooch?

More from Self:
Check Out SELF's New — And Free! — iPad App
The Drop 10 Challenge — Sign Up Now!

Around The Web
Join The Conversation
Cmm4242 Cmm4242 3 years
i love doing planks, they do really work!
capability capability 5 years
Great ab exercises - I especially love plank. My derm's office offers a non-invasive procedure (it targets the hard to get rid of muffin top area) called Zeltiq that I have heard (from friends who have tried it) works great - http://bit.ly/kKL0cC that I am considering – will let you know!
myhousemd myhousemd 5 years
These are my FAVORITE ab exercises! I'll start doing them more regularly (as opposed to once every few months) now that I know they'll actually help my pooch!
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