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Is It Possible to Flatten Your Stomach and Get an Hourglass Figure?

You desire enviable curves, but only in the right places. Your genetics play a significant role in the ability to attain an hourglass figure, but your exercise routine makes a difference, too. Exercise maximizes your physique's potential by helping you lose weight to flatten your stomach, while building balanced hips and shoulders to create a sexy silhouette.

Keep It Real

People come in all shapes and sizes, which are largely dictated by genetics. If you're a stick-straight ruler shape, the flat abs might come naturally, but building voluptuous curves will be a challenge. If you're shaped more like an apple, getting a seriously narrow waist is a nearly impossible feat.

Do the work and, ultimately, you'll become lean and fit and look good, no matter your exact body type. Use the following circuit to boost your butt, shape your shoulders and slim your tum.

The Hourglass Circuit

Do each of these exercises three times per week on non-consecutive days. The squat and lunge variations do wonders to build your glute and outer hip muscles. Adding shoulder moves balances out the lower body, so you resemble that hourglass shape. Concentrated ab moves target all the major abdominal muscles to help provide definition to your flattened stomach.

Set a timer and hit each exercise for 45 to 60 seconds, and then go immediately to the next. Save your rest for between cycles of the circuit, when you'll take about 60 seconds to catch your breath and then move through the exercises a second time.

Stability Ball Rollout

Kneel in front of a stability ball and place your hands on the top of it. Roll the ball forward until you're resting your forearms on it and your body makes a 45-degree angle with the floor. Return to the upright position. Keep rolling in and out for the whole cycle.

Squat Press

Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your shoulders, elbows bent alongside your torso. Squat down and as you stand, simultaneously straighten your elbows to push the weights overhead. Continue to squat and press for the whole cycle.

Curtsy Lunge

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, optionally holding a dumbbell in each hand alongside your hips to increase the difficulty. Step the right foot diagonally behind you as you bend the left knee and keep it over the left heel. Bring the right foot back to the front and repeat with the left. Alternate for the whole cycle.

Ball Bridge

Lie on your back with the backs of your ankles on a stability ball. Lift your hips and bend your knees to roll the ball to you. Extend your legs and roll the ball back out. Keep your hips elevated and the ball rolling for the whole cycle.

Front Lunge with Shoulder Raise

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms alongside your hips. Step the right foot forward into a front lunge and simultaneously raise the arms, elbows straight, up parallel to the floor. Return the right foot back and lower your arms. Repeat with the left side. Continue alternating for the entire cycle.

Windshield Wipers

Sit on the back of your sits bones and lean back, propping your torso up on your forearms. Make sure your shoulders are right over your elbows. Lift both legs up straight toward the ceiling. Use control to lower the legs right, then left, for the whole cycle.

Crunch on a Stability Ball

Place your low back on a stability ball with your knees bent and feet planted about hip-distance apart. Put your hands behind your head, pull your belly button toward your spine and crunch up pulling your chest toward your thighs. Lower back to the start position to complete one repetition.

Don't Stop There

This circuit gives you strength and calorie-burning muscle, but you'll also need some solid cardio work to help you lose fat and flatten your abs. Instead of a standard run, hike up an incline treadmill varying between 3 percent and 9 percent or hit the hills in your neighborhood to help further develop your glutes. A study published in Gait and Posture in 2012 showed that butt muscle activation increased the faster you walk up the hill. The step mill at your local gym is another way to build your lower body as you burn calories.

Whatever cardio you choose, aim for a good 30- to 45-minute workout on four or five days out of the week. This is in addition to your circuit routine.

Eating well is another part of any physique-changing strategy. Small, frequent meals help keep you fueled without overfilling your tummy, which causes you to feel bloated and uncomfortable. Aim to eat mostly whole foods, such as lean proteins -- including chicken, fish and flank steak -- and fresh produce. Pay attention to how your body reacts to certain foods, too -- some foods, such as dairy, wheat and cruciferous vegetables, can cause digestive upset that undermines your hopes for a flat tum.

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About the Author

Andrea Cespedes has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.

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