Are you sick of stubborn belly fat? A tight, toned tummy is one of the hardest goals to achieve.

No one wants to hear it, but the appearance of our abs is largely determined by our diet. So if you’re guilty of sneaking snacks, consuming extra calories, or late-night noshing, your gut will be the Benedict Arnold of body parts and give away your snacking secrets.

It’s tempting to think you can spot-train specific areas of the body, such as the belly. But, unfortunately, this just won’t work. To reveal a flat, svelte stomach, you must do it the old-fashioned way by eating a well-balanced diet, engaging in exercises that reduce overall body fat, and staying well-hydrated. Even then, there are no guarantees for a whittled middle, but it certainly gets you closer to your goal.

Workouts that include major muscle groups such as the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core are the best fitness formula for frying abdominal fat because engaging larger muscles will burn more calories than doing isolated exercises alone. By practicing compound exercises that recruit multiple groups all at once, you can watch your waistline wither away much faster than with basic crunches alone.

Here are the top three compound core exercises that are superior to sit-ups. You will need a set of free weights to complete this circuit.

For best results, perform these exercises before cardio while the body is fresh and able to maintain proper form. Complete this circuit three times.

Glute bridge chest press

  • Begin on your back with a weight in each hand, and your arms in line with your shoulders. Push through your heels to elevate your hips until they form a straight line from shoulders to knees. Squeeze your glutes.
  • While holding this stance, push the weights up toward the ceiling so they are directly over your shoulders. Hold for a count then lower the weights. Repeat 12 to 15 times. Give the weights a nice, firm grip for the entire exercise to further engage the biceps and chest muscles.
Ashley demonstrates a glute bridge chest press in this 2018 file photo.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley demonstrates a glute bridge chest press in this 2018 file photo.

Mashed-up mountain climbers

  • Start in a high plank position with your shoulders aligned over wrists, spine straight, and feet hip-width apart.
  • Briskly drive your knees up toward your chest for 10 total counts (five per side), then lower your body into a push-up. That’s one rep. Repeat three times.

Plank shoulder taps

  • Take a moment to rest your wrists, then resume your plank position with proper form.
  • Without rocking at your hips, lift your right hand to tap your left shoulder followed by your left hand tapping your right shoulder. Continue this sequence for 20 total taps.
Ashley demonstrates shoulder taps in this 2018 file photo.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley demonstrates shoulder taps in this 2018 file photo.

Time to bust a gut! If you want washboard abs, don’t wish for them, work for them.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach in South Jersey. To learn more about her virtual training program, go to ashleyblakefitness.com.