If you want a flat stomach, know this: No amount of crunches or flat-stomach exercises will magically get you there.

That said, these effective flat stomach exercises work because, yes, they’re core moves, but they also recruit other muscles to increase your overall effort level—which burns more calories and will tone more muscle all over your body. These exercises are perfect finisher to add onto the end of your workout or squeeze in at home when you don’t have time to hit the gym. (And, if you’ve come to any of my classes finishers, and core strength has a lot of benefits besides helping you get a flat tummy!)

How it works: Do each exercise in order for the indicated number of reps with little to no rest between exercises. The complete circuit shouldn’t take less than 10 minutes.

You’ll need: a mat, and some liquid courage…the clear kind 🙂

While there are so many benefits to improving your fitness besides burning calories, if weight loss or fat loss is your goal, finding what exercises burn the most calories and incorporating them into your calorie-burning workouts will be a game-changer!

Pike and Extend

Targets: Abs, legs

  • Lie faceup on mat with legs extended over hips, arms overhead. Crunch up, reaching hands toward feet.
  • Keeping legs straight, bring arms back overhead as you lower upper back and right leg toward floor.
  • Crunch up, lifting left leg over hips and reaching hands to toes, then repeat on the opposite side.

Do 20 reps, alternating sides.

Standing Side Crunches

Targets: Obliques, legs

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hands behind head with elbows out to the sides.
  • Shift weight onto the left leg and lift the right knee toward right elbow, engaging core to crunch to the right.
  • Tap the right foot to the ground and stand tall to return to start.

Do 15 reps; switch sides and repeat.

Weighted Hold with Leg Extension

Targets: Chest, abs

  • Lie faceup on mat, knees bent 90 degrees over hips, holding a medicine ball, dumbbells, with arms extended over chest, palms in. (No medicine ball or dumbbells? Do the move without it and you’ll still get the core-strengthening benefits.)
  • Engage core to curl the tops of shoulder blades off the floor.
  • Keeping right knee bent, straighten left leg toward the floor. Focus on pressing the lower back into the floor and drawing ribs and hip bones together. Hold for 1 count, then return to start.

Do 10 reps. Switch legs; repeat.

Knee-Up with Overhead Press

Targets: Shoulders, abs, glutes

  • Sit on mat with knees bent and heels on the floor, holding a medicine ball in front of chest. (No medicine ball? Do the move without it.)
  • Lean back slightly and extend arms overhead while lifting feet a few inches off floor and bringing knees toward chest. Focus on engaging core and drawing belly button to spine to keep the pressure out of the lower back.

Hold position for 1 to 3 counts; return to start. Do 15 reps.

Lunge and Twist

Targets: Abs, glutes, legs

  • Stand with feet together. Lunge back with right leg, bending knees to 90 degrees, and reach right hand to left foot.
  • Stand onto the left leg, and lift the right knee to hip height, bringing fists to chest and bending elbows out to sides while twisting to the right.
  • Twist back to center, lunge right leg back, and repeat.

Do 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.