One area both men and women find most difficult to tone down is the ‘tummy’.

People have tried several things, swallowed bitter pills, consumed funny looking mixtures, and the several quick-fix products that spring up on a daily, yet no result.

I get bombarded with the question ‘how can my tummy go down’. Now if you fall into this category, this piece is just for you.

For women, childbirth is often responsible for your tummy increase, and honestly it’s no fault of yours. However, days after childbirth, with the consent of your doctor based on the type of delivery you had, you can start using a girdle, or as our old mamas used to do back then, tie a wrapper around the tummy to hold it firmly in place. This little method prevents your tummy from protruding too much and when you do start to exercise to trim it, you will see results faster. And yes, it is effective.

After childbirth, the muscles around the abdomen are loose and weak after the expansion it went through carrying a child, so to our mothers, don’t despair, it’s rather normal.

It is important though that women don’t rush into exercising immediately after childbirth. For those who had a normal delivery, you are to wait between 4-5weeks before resuming regular exercise, while those who had a caesarean section need wait for between 8-10weeks before starting exercise.

The good news for all, Yes! Your tummy can go flat, but the bitter truth is, there are no shortcuts. If you are interested in sustainable results, there’s only one lane down this road. Most products that promise heaven on earth only do a detox, while some products can help suppress appetite, bottomline, there’s no hiding from food discipline and exercise. If any product or scheme promises otherwise, don’t be cajoled.

To get your tummy flat, you need to curb habits that caused you a big waistline in the first place. These same habits will prevent you from seeing results quickly if you continue them while doing your exercises.

  • Eating late night: You must be done with dinner by 8pm max. Eat light meals only for dinner. If you get home by 8pm or later, snack on fruits and go to bed, and in the morning you can eat a decent meal. Swallow meals should never be for dinner, they should be for lunch (they are heavy and never digest on time). That’s why you see a man get married looking trim and fit, and months down the line, you start to see the tummy bulging. It’s not evidence of good living, it isn’t a sign the wife is taking care of the husband, it’s a result of poor food habits. So men, please don’t fight your wives when they refuse serving you your swallow when you are back from work.
  • Sugary foods: Fizzy drinks, so-called ‘diet’ drinks, soda, Juice, chocolate bars, biscuits, even flavoured cereals are bad for you and you need to stop them or limit their intake to the barest minimum. Did I hear you say cereals too? Yes, those very sweet ones or fruity flavoured. When buying cereals, read through the dietary contents at the back of the pack. Settle only for cereals whose ‘fibre’ content is (5g or higher) and ‘sugar’ content is (below 5g). In fact bran cereals and flakes are best for you, so also Oats.
  • Eating when sad or upset: Are you an emotional eater? Women especially suffer from this. Don’t eat when you are depressed or upset, when the problem eventually blows over, you then have weight issues to battle with.
  • Eating from a large dish: As silly as it may sound, a large dish equals a large portion of food. Eating from a smaller plate allows you consciously cut your ration and this helps in a big way down the line.
  • Alcohol intake: If you consume alcoholic beverages daily, then that has to stop if you are serious about losing that tummy bulge. They contain high numbers of carbohydrate which differ from one type of beverage to the other and also sugar (especially beer, stouts, ales etc). The more bottles you rack up cumulatively, the greater risk you stand of a tummy bulge.

The Tummy routines

Crunches are known to be the most effective type of tummy exercises, here are some of them;


  1. I) Leg Lifts:

Lie flat on the ground with your arms at your sides and your legs out in front of you.

Use a yoga or exercise mat for your comfort.

Lift your legs up at the same time, then lower your legs as slowly as possible.

The slower you go, the more you resist gravity and force your muscles to maintain control.

Do 5 sets of 10-20 repetitions per set.


  1. a) To make the exercise more challenging, place a ball between your feet and lift your legs up.

Using an exercise or medicine ball (you can use a football too) will add some extra resistance to your workout and will make you do more work.

Just place the ball in between your feet, get a firm grip on it, and then begin to lift your legs up until they are perpendicular to the rest of your body.

This is the vertical leg lift with an added weight. Then lower your legs as slowly as possible.

Do 5 sets of 10-20 repetitions per set.



  1. II) Cross Crunches:

Lay on the floor on your back and with your knees bent.

Instead of lifting both shoulders off the floor at the same time, contract your abs and lift your left shoulder up while raising your right knee, but keeping the leg bent.

Pull your left shoulder and right knee toward each other, and then return to the starting position.

Perform another cross crunch with your right shoulder and left knee to complete one full rep of this exercise.

Perform 5 sets of 10 repetitions per set for each side



III) Bicycle Crunch:

To perform a bicycle crunch lie on your back with your abdominals pulled in and your hands behind your head.

Bring your knees up to your chest and slowly go through a cycling motion.

Crunch and touch your left elbow to your right knee and then change to the right elbow and left knee.

Make sure you are lifting your shoulder blades and upper back off the floor as you rotate from side to side.

Breathe out as you crunch or rotate and breathe in as you come back to the centre when doing the Bicycle Crunch.

Left and right crunch makes 1 repetition. Perform 5 sets of 10-20 repetitions per set.



  1. IV) Heel Touch Crunch

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands next to your hips.

Slightly raise your upper body off the floor and with one hand reach down your side to your heel.

Return to the middle and repeat to the other side reaching to touch your hand to your heel.

Keep moving from side to side. Left and right touch of heel makes 1 repetition, perform 5 sets of 10-20 repetitions per set.



  1. V) Regular Crunch:

Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.

Cross your arms in front of your chest or behind your head.

Curl your back to lift your upper body part (your feet remains flat on the floor throughout the duration of the routine).

Get back slowly to your initial position. Lift up again after 2secs. Do 10 sets of 15 repetitions per set.



  1. VI) Reverse Crunch:

Lie on the floor and place hands behind the head.

Bring your knees in towards the chest until they form a 90 degrees angle with the floor

Pull your legs towards your chest

Crunch your abs to raise your shoulders off the floor.

Do 5 sets of 15 repetitions per set



VII) Crunch twist:

Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.

Place your hands behind your head

Bring your elbow to your opposite knee when you come in for the crunch (it is important to not bend your head toward your chest during the exercise)

Get back slowly to your initial position

Alternate between left and right twists

Perform 5 sets of 10 repetitions per set. Remember left and right twists make 1rep



VIII) Vertical leg Crunch

Cross your ankles and lift your legs up (upright position)

Place your hands behind your head and lift your shoulder blades off the floor.

Perform short upward movements. Do 5 sets of 20 repetitions per set



  1. IX) Long arm Crunch

Lie on your back and hold your arms out above your head

Curl your back to lift your upper body part (your feet have to remain flat at any time).

Get back slowly to your initial position and repeat

Fast upward phase and slow downward phase will work the abs best for this crunch

Your arms have to remain straight all times

Do 5 sets of 15 repetitions per set.



Written by: Dr. Olu Donald

Fitness, Nutrition and Lifestyle Expert | Tweet @Oluooo

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