Who doesn’t want that sleek, flat belly look? A flat belly comes from a toned central core, all the way around. Think 360 degrees. In front is the rectus abdominus, source of the coveted six pack. Wrapped around both sides are the obliques, which contribute to the lovely hourglass shape. In the back are the erector spinae and quadratus lumborum, which anchor the core and pelvis.

A Personal Trainer Top Five List

Think of these exercises as the finishing touches to an already lean body. No matter how toned the underlying muscles are, an excess of belly fat will keep your waistline from looking slim and trim. To lose excess body fat you need to combine high-intensity, full-body resistance exercises and a high-protein, fat-burning diet. Get your body fat to the right level, then let these five personal trainer favorites work their magic. Add them to your daily workouts and in a few weeks show off in your favorite bikini.

1. Dumbbell Woodchop with Forward Lunge

This exercise works the oblique and back muscles, and is terrific for developing dynamic balance.

  1. Grasp an eight pound dumbbell by ends, one end in each hand.
  2. Bring the dumbbell up to your right shoulder.
  3. Step into a forward lunge with your left leg and simultaneously “chop” the dumbbell down and away from your chest by extending both arms.
  4. Continue down and left, diagonally across the front of your body.
  5. Turn your shoulders to the left and continue chopping towards the floor on your left side.
  6. Finish with the dumbbell outside your left (front) leg, your shoulders rotated to the left and arms extended toward the floor.
  7. Step back to the starting position with your left leg and bring the dumbbell back up to your right shoulder.
  8. Repeat 12 times, then switch to the other side to complete the set.
  9. Perform three sets total.

2. Standing Pallof Press

Also known as a core cable press or two-arm cable press, this exercise will tighten up your belly, sides and back. Experiment a bit to find the right weight. The load should make you engage your core muscles, but not pull or twist you to the side.

  1. Adjust the cable pulley to chest height and grasp the handle with both hands.
  2. Stand sideways to the pulley, about three to four feet away, with your feet shoulder width apart.
  3. Bring the handle to the center of your chest.
  4. Push the handle away from your chest by extending your arms straight out in front of you.
  5. Engage your core and glute muscles, and do not let the cable twist or pull your body off-center.
  6. Return the handle back to the center of your chest.
  7. Repeat for 12 presses, then switch sides to complete the set.
  8. Perform three sets total.

3. Physio Ball Rollout

This exercise targets the rectus abdominus.

  1. Kneel in front of a physio ball.
  2. Rest your wrists on top of the ball with your arms straight.
  3. Keeping your arms straight, roll the ball away from you and allow your body to lower towards the floor.
  4. Continue rolling until your arms, back and thighs make a straight line.
  5. Roll the ball back toward you.
  6. Keep your core muscles engaged throughout the movement and do not let your hips sag.
  7. Perform three sets of 12 reps each.

4. Reverse Crunch with Hip Raise

Here is another exercise to help build those six pack abs.

  1. Lie on your back on a bench with your legs extended toward the ceiling.
  2. Grasp the bench behind your head.
  3. Contract your ab muscles and slowly raise your hips off the bench, pushing your feet straight up toward ceiling.
  4. Slowly lower your hips back to the bench.
  5. Do not use momentum to get your hips off the bench; perform the raise slowly and do not swing your feet over your head.
  6. Repeat three sets of 12 reps each.

5. Renegade Row

This exercise adds weights and changing balance points to a basic floor plank, challenging your core muscles in all 360 degrees.

  1. Grip a couple of 10 pound dumbbells in a neutral grip, knuckles facing outward.
  2. Rest the dumbbells on the floor shoulder width apart and get into a plank position with your feet spread shoulder width apart.
  3. Row your right arm by pulling the dumbbell towards you and keeping your elbow close to your side.
  4. Bring your right arm back to the floor and repeat with the left arm.
  5. Strongly brace your core and glute muscles throughout the movement.
  6. The goal is to prevent your hips from shifting or bobbing.
  7. Perform three sets of 12 reps.