The weather is (slowly) beginning to warm up, Spring Break is just around the corner, and summer will be here before we know it. While we crave the longer daylight hours and sun, impending Swimsuit Season can make some of us start to hyperventilate. Getting beach body ready, to most of us, equals a toned figure, bronze skin, and flat abs. We can’t help you with the tan, but we can help you with toning your figure and finally actually getting the flat abs you’ve always wanted. Here’s how:
Step 1: Work your entire body
First and foremost, the extra “pudge” around the middle you’re so eager to get rid of has more to do with excess body fat than it does lack of muscle. 200 crunches a day can’t fix that. Start working toward flat abs by working out your entire body to get into the “zone” of burning your stored fat – aka “love handles.” • HIIT is a great way to tackle all-over fitness. Get the inside scoop on how to get a great interval workout. • Cardio in general will help you burn fat, but boxing is a way to get your heart rate up while also working on your core (see Step 2!). Tennis and rowing are also great sports for killing two birds with one stone.
Step 2: Spend extra time strengthening your core
Your core is key. You’ll be an all-around stronger person for focusing on your core abdominal muscles, plus they’re the ones that’ll keep you looking slim.
• Planking is one of the best “shortcuts” to strengthening your core. Start in a pushup position, with arms under your shoulders and feet together behind you. Hold as long as you can, working up to a minute. Try other variations, too, such as reverse plank and side plank.
• Improve your posture. Standing properly requires active muscles. Align your ears over your shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over knees, and knees over ankles, and consciously realign throughout the day until it becomes habit.
• Yoga is a great way to work your core while also improving your body’s muscle memory for proper posture.
Step 3: Do a few focused exercises
First, a disclaimer: exercises targeted at “fixing” specific problem areas may not get you the results you dream of. However, that doesn’t mean the won’t help! Combined with a solid all-around routine, targeted exercises can help you tone up.
• Side Bend: In a standing position, bend to one side, arms overhead. Quickly reverse directions, and repeat.
• Canoe: Standing with your feet hip-width apart, lock your hands together in a fist. Inhale, and as you exhale raise your right leg while simultaneously moving your hands, shoulders, and arms to the left – as if rowing. Inhale to return to the start position, and on exhale, repeat on the other side.
• Spiderman: Start in a plank position. Begin by bending your left knee towards your left elbow, keeping your abs tight. Pause, return to start, and repeat on the right side.
Step 4: Change it upKeep your routine fresh by adding fun “accessories” to your workout. Stability balls, resistance bands, and gym equipment aren’t completely necessary to get flat abs, but they will add interest to your workouts.
• Using a stability ball, lay on your back holding the ball over your head (on the ground) and your legs straight out in front of you. Raise the ball above your chest while raising your legs to meet. Put the ball between your ankles and lower your legs and arms to the floor.
BONUS: Eat rightAlright, so this one has nothing to do with a workout to get those flat abs. But we are what we eat, so it’s important to emphasize that eating a healthy diet will contribute to getting results faster.
• Ditch the processed foods with all their excess sodium. You’ll be less bloated and you’ll eat less fat and added sugar.
• Begin to incorporate lots of fat-burning foods into your diet.
• Skip the drinks. It’s hard, I get it, but alcohol of any kind releases estrogen into your system, which is what causes weight to stick.
• Drink more water. It will help flush out excess sodium and actually reduce bloating.