All I wanted for Christmas was flat, toned abs. Just like Gwen Stefani or Katy Perry. Instead, I still have 2010's jiggly middle. UGH!
This year I promised myself to hit the gym and overhaul my abs. Unfortunately, there are no miracle tummy toners! An enviable core takes crunches, twists, and other gut-busting exercises. Plus, I need to ban my hand from the candy dish at work.
"Spot toning is a fallacy," states fitness expert and owner of Made In LA Fitness, Andrea Lawent. "If you overeat during the holidays or any other days for that matter, no ab exercise or any other isometric exercise is going to reverse overeating," adds Andrea.
A good way to jumpstart your system to an ab-tastic figure in 2011 is to "eat clean, void of sugar and complex starches." Plus, Andrea shares with Healthy Hollywood five of her favorite ab exercises.
1. Full Vertical Crunch: Lie on your back and extend the legs up towards the ceiling. Place hands behind your head (lightly cupping it) and contract the abs to lift the shoulder blades off the floor. At the same time, press the heels toward the ceiling, creating a 'u' shape with the torso. Lower down and repeat for 12 - 16 reps.
2. Reverse Crunch: Lie on the floor and place hands on the floor or behind the head. Bring the knees in towards chest until they're bent to 90 degrees, with feet together or crossed. Contract the abs to curl the hips off the floor, reaching the legs up towards the ceiling. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 12 - 16 reps. It's a very small movement, so try to use abs to lift your hips rather than swinging your legs and creating momentum.
3. Plank: Lie face down on mat resting on the forearms, palms flat on the floor. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, lower and repeat for 3-5 reps.
4. Bicycle: Lie on the floor and lace your fingers behind your head. Bring the knees in towards the chest and lift the shoulders blades off the floor without pulling on the neck. Straighten the left leg out while simultaneously turning the upper body to the right, taking the left elbow towards the right knee. Switch sides, bringing the right elbow towards the left knee. Continue alternating sides in a 'pedaling' motion for 1-3 sets of 12-16 reps.
5. Crunch: Lie down on the floor on your back and bend your knees, placing your hands behind your head or across your chest. Pull your belly button towards your spine, and flatten your lower back against the floor. Slowly contract your abdominals, bringing your shoulder blades about one or two inches off the floor. Exhale as you come up and keep you neck straight, chin up. Hold at the top of the movement for a few seconds, breathing continuously. Slowly lower back down, but don't relax all the way. Repeat for 15 to 20 repetitions with perfect form for each rep.
Ab 101: Always make sure the abdominal wall is flat as to not build the muscle out, creating a pooch.
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