A toned stomach is an object of desire for many of us. Whether it's for beach confidence or simply being able to do up our trousers, keeping those love handles down is important.

A flat stomach matters not just for appearance, but also for health

So here are the 3 steps to busting that belly:


There’s no escaping the truth – a flat stomach starts by putting the right amount of food into it. The most dedicated efforts to tone stomach muscles won’t show results if those muscles are covered in a layer of fat.

Watching your calorie intake (while maintaining a healthy diet) is the best way to reduce your body fat. Burning some of those calories with exercise will also assist – that’s step 2!


While spot-reducing exercise is a myth, a good session of cardio will help to deal with whatever is there. It will also benefit your general health, so head for the spinning class, treadmill or circuits session. While the weather holds, take your stomach outside for a run or even a brisk walk.


Targeted exercise can also help to define and lengthen that waistline. If you struggle with simple crunches, enlist some machine help. Seated ab curls on a crunch machine will tighten things up while you remain upright. This reduces strain on your lower back.

If you don’t have time for a gym visit, there are also simple no-equipment exercises that can be done in spare time at home. Try these two, remembering to keep your stomach pulled in to engage your core.

  • Banana roll: lie down on your back, with arms and legs extended. Lift limbs so you are banana-shaped, then roll over on to your front under control.
  • Standing side bends: stand with feet hip width apart. Place one hand behind your head with your elbow out. Bend sideways so the other hand slides down your leg. Stand again and repeat on the other side.

Burn the fat, embrace the flat – for health as well as appearance!


The Author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.


Ashley C.
12 October 2018

Ashley C.

It is very motivating when you see how simple it really is.

Martin F.
11 December 2017

Martin F.

Genetics does play a factor. I have been going to gyms for 30 years and generally people on the running machines don't change their shape. The best way by far is heavy weights to failure and eating well. I am in my early 50's and am better defined now than in my 30's. Start on the big muscle groups working on to the smaller ones and cut out sugar.

Marcus T.
26 October 2017

Marcus T.

Side bends are a bad exercise if you want the classic V - taper look as they build a boxy mid section. Consistency is the most important thing with diet and training, I still look as ripped in the summer as I ever did even though I'm in my 40's. No magic, just understanding physical changes in my bodies ability to use energy more efficiently with age which also makes it easier to gain muscle, strength and stamina.

Simon J.
30 September 2017

Simon J.

worrying if middle-age spread can come on in our 30s - but I would agree, the 'eat anything stay skinny' stage doesn't last for ever. Time to get real and work at it.

george h.
26 September 2017

george h.

Age doesn't help you have to work harder the older you get. First rule is definitely to remove the fat though - get you body fat percentage down or no matter what muscle you have you can't see it

Sean S.
24 September 2017

Sean S.

I think a flat stomach is something that gets harder to achieve as we get older. I definitely have more of a paunch in my 30s than in my early 20s and I wonder how much this affects my health too.

Charlie M.
22 September 2017

Charlie M.

anybody else have the urge to jump up for some standing side bends? Simple exercise but really does help, although I add some weights if they are to hand.

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