Smart Solutions to Your Top Fitness Questions
Seriously, How Do I Get Flat Abs?"I want a flat belly but can't bear to do another crunch. Help!"
Smart Solution: "Do planks, push-ups, and almost anything on a stability ball. These moves activate your transversus abdominis -- the deepest abdominal muscle; its fibers run horizontally across your belly -- to create a strong, flat, muscular girdle of sorts that connects your upper body to your lower body," says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise.
Try: Making gravity work against you while you work out; this gives you more belly-toning benefits. Lying on your stomach, place your feet on a low step or bench, lift one leg toward the ceiling, and perform a push-up. At your gym, look for fun suspension-training classes, where you exercise with your upper or lower half supported from above by super-durable straps. An at-home version of the TRX Suspension Trainer ($150, fitnessanywhere.com) simply latches onto the top of a doorjamb. Slip your feet into the stirrups from a full push-up position and do knees-to-chest tucks, or grasp a stirrup in each hand and lean forward to do chest presses with added instability. "Every exercise is total body, so you're really toning all over with each rep," says Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 gym in San Diego.
Finally, don't forget to mix in some heart-healthy cardio. "You can have a perfect six-pack, but no one will ever see it if you've got a layer of fat covering it up," says FITNESS advisory board member Len Kravitz, PhD, coordinator of exercise science at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Run, walk briskly, swim, dance, or bike for at least 30 minutes five times a week.
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