By Karen Asp

You're on a quest for flat abs. Trouble is, you suffer from heartburn, and traditional crunches set your chest on fire. Are you doomed to a tubby tummy?

Fortunately, no, says Jennifer Cassetty, a certified personal trainer and fitness consultant in New York. When training your core, keep these heartburn-friendly strategies in mind:

1. Avoid face-up positions

Strike crunches, reverse sit-ups, V-ups and any exercise where you're lying face up. These exercises can trigger heartburn because they increase pressure in your abdomen, which can push stomach acid back up into your esophagus. In addition, when you’re flat on your back, your esophagus is on the same level as your stomach, which makes it easier for reflux to occur.

2. Keep your heart above your hips

By staying as upright as possible, you enlist the aid of gravity to help keep stomach acid down in your stomach, where it belongs. So instead of plank on the floor, get into a plank position with your forearms on a stability ball to keep your chest elevated. 

3. Experiment with equipment

Stability balls, dumbbells and medicine balls offer alternative ways to tighten those abs. This type of exercise can be more heartburn-friendly than traditional situps. For example, try sitting on the floor and doing side-to-side twists with a medicine ball.

4. Know that your abs are getting a workout even when you least suspect it

You might not think you're doing much for your abs if you’re not targeting them specifically. Yet you can get good core benefits from cardiovascular activities, like elliptical training, or lower body exercises -- including lunges and squats -- with free weights.

5. Don’t be afraid to train every day

Because you use your abs every day, even when you’re just walking, it’s OK to train them daily, notes Cassetty. Her recommendation: three sets of 20 to 25 repetitions per day. One caveat: If you're working those abdominals to fatigue, train them on non-consecutive days no more than three times a week.

6. Don't forget about cardio and healthy eating.

"Core training might give you stronger abs, but it won't get rid of fat over those abdominals," says Cassetty. To shed that fat, you have to include cardio activity and a healthy diet in your regimen. Then train those abdominals, and you’ll be that much closer to a tighter tummy.

Karen Asp is a fitness/health writer who contributes to numerous publications, including Fitness, Natural Health, Men's Fitness, Prevention, Self, Shape and Women's Health. She's a contributing editor for Woman's Day and the Fit Travel blogger for AOL. Asp is also a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor.


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Flat Abs for Heartburn Sufferers - Fitness & Exercise

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