Dumbbell Exercises for a Flat Stomach

To achieve a flat, toned stomach, you need to create an effective workout plan. You need adequate cardio -- jumping rope, crossovers, twists, mountain climbers -- to burn fat off your abs, but you also need resistance exercises to build the muscles underneath. Target all of the abdominal muscles, which includes the rectus abdominis at front, internal and external obliques at the sides, as well as the transverse abdominis muscles, which wrap around the sides from front to back, and you can get that flat stomach you're after.

Push to Flatten

The dumbbell push crunch targets the rectus abdominis muscles in your abdomen but also works the obliques at the sides. Lie faceup on an incline bench, your feet secured under the foot pad, arms extended straight above you so your hands are aligned with your shoulders. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing away from you. Without moving your lower back or lower body, flex at the waist, raising your torso off the bench. Keep your arms straight during the movement. Lower yourself back down to complete one rep.

Tighten the Sides

To build the oblique muscles, sculpting yourself in at the sides, try the dumbbell side bend exercise. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, arms down at your sides with a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your lower body rigid, bend toward the right, until you feel a light stretching on your left side. Return to your starting position, then repeat toward the opposite side.

Learn to Fly

The stability ball dumbbell fly exercise helps tone and tighten your abdominal muscles, so you can get the flat stomach you're after. Lie with your upper back on top of a stability ball, legs bent and feet flat on the floor. With your arms extended straight up so your hands are aligned with your shoulders, hold a dumbbell in each hand so your palms face each other. Simultaneously bend your arms until they form right angles, the weights at about chest-level. Return to your original position then repeat.

Get Crunching

Although it may seem rather basic, the crunch is actually one of the most effective exercises for the abdomen, helping you slim your center. Lie on your back with your legs bent, feet flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Rest your hands behind your head, holding a dumbbell vertically between your hands. Keep your lower body still, engage your core and raise your torso off the floor toward your knees, without lifting your lower back from the floor. Lower back down for one rep.

Keep the Resistance Up

It's always important to maintain a certain level of resistance with dumbbell exercises. That means using enough weight to challenge your muscles, without making them strain. You need to increase the weight of your dumbbells as your muscles become accustomed to lifting a certain amount. Only increase the weight by 5 to 10 percent increments at the most each time, though, to ensure you're increasing the resistance at a safe pace and not overexerting yourself.

Safety Tips

Especially if you're just getting started with weight training exercises, it's important to talk things over with your doctor first. Consulting with a medical professional before starting with any new exercise program can help prevent injury. During each exercise, you should only feel a light tension in the targeted muscle, never any pain. If you feel a sharp pain at any time, this could be a warning sign that you're using too much weight and putting an excess amount of stress on your muscles and joints.