Because relying on elasticated pants isn’t a long-term solution, we asked Stacie Clark, celeb trainer and star of the Women’s Health Power Sculpt Series DVD, to talk us through the real tricks to getting rock-hard abs. Follow her advice and you’ll be just fine:
Stop obsessing over every little fluctuation
“Our body changes daily from uncontrollable things such as bloating and dehydration — but these temporary ups and downs don’t accurately reflect our weight. If you want to notice a change in your body composition, you’re much better off scheduling weekly check-ins where you step on the scale and record your measurements than freaking out about what you can see in the mirror.”
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Pencil in recovery
“Always take one or two days off a week during which you allow your body to recover, because that’s how change happens. Exercise breaks down the muscle fibers, and it’s the healing recovery process that re-shapes the body.”
Learn proper portion size
“There are so many external variables that can mess with your appetite — including strenuous workouts and stress — that what you really need to focus on is this: Does it fit in the palm of your hand? Have an objective measure of how much to eat at one time. A serving of carbs, a serving of vegetables and a serving of protein — the right mix, but a palm size.”
Doing 100 crunches doesn’t do the trick
“Your stomach is made up of 29 muscles and 58 attachments — you can’t possibly hit a ll of those with one up-and-down movement. You need to a 360 workout that will fully engage, trigger and recruit your core.”
Watch what you eat — but don’t be too specific
“There is no answer when it comes to what foods to avoid for a flat stomach — everyone is different — but keep nutrition in mind. Most people should avoid high-sodium foods and refined sugars, fats and carbs, which make you feel tired and bloated.”
The flat-ab workout
Your body isn’t going to change unless you combine this workout with some cardio and proper nutrition, says Clark. “Do these moves 3-4 times a week,” she adds. Do 8-12 reps and three rounds for each move.
Reverse Lunge with Front Arm Raise
Why: The combination of unilateral balance (keeping your body steady as you lunge back on one foot) and raising weights out in front of your body activates your entire core.
How: Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length at your sides. Keeping your chest tall and shoulders back, step one foot back and bend both knees to lower into a lunge, while simultaneously raising the weights in front of you to shoulder height, keeping your arms straight. Press through your front heel to return to start. Repeat on the other side. That’s one rep.
Plank To Pop-Up Squat
Why: This move reinforces proper posture and form, resulting in a strong core.
How: Start in a push up position, hands under your shoulders and legs extended, body forming a straight line from head to heels. Brace your core and jump your feet outside your hands, then quickly lift your chest and hands so that you’re upright. Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep.
Reach Out Push Up
Why: This engages your entire core with a deeper emphasis on the obliques. As you reach out, your body weight shifts, off-setting your balance.
How: Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders and extend your legs behind you, so your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Reach one hand 12 inches to the side and bend both elbows, lowering your chest toward the floor. Return to start and repeat on the other side. That’s one rep.
Track Start Deadlift
Why: This move requires 100 percent core stabilization, targeting every abdominal muscle and attachment.
How: Place a dumbbell on the floor in front of you and stand with your right foot a few feet in front of your left. Bend both knees, keeping your right knee over your ankle. Lower to grab the dumbbell by both ends, keeping your chest lifted. Press through your right heel to straighten your leg, raising your left leg into the air behind you (forming a T-shape with your body) and lifting the weight off the ground, arms straight and directly under your shoulders. Slowly lower your body back to start. That’s one rep.
Why: This move recruits your entire core to cinch your waist with every reach.
How: Sit on the floor, knees slightly bent, and lean your torso back. In one motion, reach your left arm up and across your body while lifting your right foot and glute off the floor. Slowly repeat on the other side. That’s one rep.