For years, you've curled, crunched, and twisted, but for some reason your pooch hasn't shrunk. Want to know why? To reveal that sexy, sculpted middle, you have to target more than the small section of abs that crunches hit, say Alwyn Cosgrove and Lou Schuler in their book The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. You need to work your entire core by encouraging it to do the job it's meant to do: stabilize your spine.
For a whittled middle, Cosgrove and Schuler told us, you need to commit these four rules to memory.
1. Your spine is already flexed-don't make it worse
If your day is spent hunched over a computer or a steering wheel, your spine is in a constantly flexed position, leading to poor posture and a weak core. So why would you worsen the problem with spine-flexing exercises like crunches? You need to do moves that help prevent or correct misaligned posture.
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2. The terms "core" and "abs" are not interchangeable
Crunches work your abs, but for the biggest benefits, you need to work your entire core, which is made up of the four layers of the abs (rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, and transverse abdominis), hip flexors, spine extensors, hip adductors (inner-thigh muscles), hip abductors (including gluteus medius), and multifidus.
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3. Move more and often if you want to spare yourself an expanding waistline
Consider this stat: Each 10 percent rise in sedentary time is associated with a 3.1-centimeter larger waist circumference. Researchers found that, of the subjects they studied, the waist measurements of people who got up most often were more than two inches smaller than those of people who got up the least.
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4. Shedding belly flab is not just about gym time
A study found that while a group's average weight loss after a 12- week fitness program was about eight pounds, individual results ranged from a loss of 32 pounds to gains of almost four pounds. So although exercise is key for shedding belly flab, weight control still comes down to calories. To drop weight, you have to burn off more of them than you take in.
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Tell us: What exercises do you do to strengthen your core?
The workout, the eating plan, and the secrets to get you there, all in one book. Buy Look Better Naked.
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