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Get the Lean Ripped Abs You’ve Always Wanted
Tight, flat abs are like most things in life—if you want them bad enough, you can have them, but you’ll have to sweat for them. Getting flat abs is about more than just isolating the core muscles with toning exercises. You’ll also need a balanced diet, plenty of exercise and a healthy dose of discipline.
Watch Your Weight
You knew that eating well keeps you healthy, but you probably never thought about how it affects your visible muscle tone. It’s possible to tone your muscles even if you’re overweight, but excess body fat hides the work you’ve done. When you’re slim, people can see how toned your muscles are—or aren’t.
A healthy diet alone won’t keep you slim forever. Cardio exercises, like walking, swimming and running, burn calories and boost your metabolism to blast the stomach fat standing between you and your six pack. Raise your heart rate for 30 minutes a day, three to five days a week to keep off extra pounds.
Reverse Crunches Isolate Your Lower Abs
Strengthen and tone the lower half of your abdomen with reverse crunches. Lie on the floor and lift your legs into the air, keeping them as straight as possible, but bending them as much as you need to to keep your lumbar spine pressed against the floor. Put your palms on either side of your hips to hold yourself steady. Contract your lower abdomen to lift your heels and hips into the air. Exhale as you contract your lower abdomen, inhale as you relax it. Perform a set of 10 to 15 repetitions in the beginning, and add more sets to your workout as you get stronger.
Full Vertical Crunches Work Your Entire Abdomen
Full vertical crunches work your lower, middle and upper abs all at once. They’re similar to reverse crunches, but slightly more difficult. The full vertical crunch is basically just like a reverse crunch, only when you contract your lower abdomen to lift your heels and hips into the air, you’ll simultaneously contract your upper abdomen to lift your shoulder blades as well. Start with a set of 10 to 15 reps and add more sets as the full vertical crunch gets easier.
Bicycle Crunches Tone Obliques
The bicycle isn’t just a means of eco-friendly transportation; it’s also a way to isolate your obliques, the abdominal muscles that allow you to turn and bend. Toning these muscles gives your abs the ripped appearance that you’re craving.
To do bicycle crunches, lie on your back with your legs lifted and your hips and knees bent at a 90° angle. Lace your fingers together at the back of your head with your bent elbows on either side.
Straighten the left leg, extending the foot upward at a 45° angle. At the same time, lift your left shoulder off the floor and rotate slightly, as if you wanted to touch your bent right knee with your left elbow. Focus on contracting your abs; hold your bent leg and arm steady.
Without moving your hips or letting your chest drop back to the floor, straighten your right leg to a 45° angle while returning your left leg to its original position. Lift your left shoulder by contracting your abs, and rotate your torso as if you were trying to touch your bent left knee with your bent right elbow. Perform a set of 10 to 15 repetitions at first; add more sets as you build strength in your obliques.
Don’t Give Up on Getting that Six Pack
While these three exercises are very effective in helping to isolate, tone and strengthen the abdominal muscles, you won’t get lean, ripped abs without discipline and patience. Add these toning exercises to your workout twice a week; as time goes by and you gain strength, do them three to five days every week. Within a few weeks, your abs will feel stronger and more toned, and soon that flat, firm stomach will be yours.