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6 Tips for Flat Abs

Two fitness gurus offer their secrets for toning and tightening the tummy.

Flat Ab Tip No. 2: Think Whole-Body Exercise continued...

"Work your core in 3-D, hitting the sides, back, and middle," Neporent says.

Plank: Start on your hands and knees and come up into a push-up plank position, balancing on hands (or elbows) and toes (or knees). Align wrists under shoulders; keep your back straight and the abs and glutes tight (to keep the back from sagging). Hold the position and breathe out for 10 seconds, exhaling to tighten the abs and draw the navel to the spine.

Leg Lowers: Lying supine, curl the upper body, chest over ribs, with your hands behind your head. Lift the legs up with knees bent at 90 degrees, knees over hips, ankles level with knees. Keeping the hips down, slowly lower the legs toward the floor without changing the bend in the knees, then lift them back up.

Seated Rotations: Sitting up, bend knees and legs together and place arms across the chest or in front of you. Tuck the tailbone and roll back slightly as you alternate rotating the spine right and left.

Flat Ab Tip No. 3: Examine Your Diet and Digestion

"If you have abdominal fat you can have great ab strength and great posture, but you won't have a flat abdominal or a six-pack," Barrett says.  "You have to change your diet and increase your energy output."

In other words, eat less and move more.

"You need to burn off more calories than you take in to reduce body fat," Neporent adds.

Unfortunately for many people, the abdominals are a place where fat tends to accumulate, Barrett says.

"No matter how many ab exercises you do, you're still going to have an extra layer [of fat] covering the abdominals [if you're carrying excess weight]," Neporent says.

Flat Ab Tip No. 4: Props Are Optional

Stability balls and Bosu balls, straps and bands, even those fancy MBT Masai walking shoes are not necessary to achieve flat abs.

Props are wonderful, and they may help you work your core more readily, elevate you to a different level or simply mix it up, but you don't need them to meet your fitness goals.

"Gimmicks or fancy gym memberships aren't necessary. You don't need space, you don't need sneakers, you don't need fancy clothes," Barrett says.

For instance, strengthen your abdominals when you're at the park, raking leaves, taking a walk.  Even while socializing at a cocktail party you can stand straight and exhale to draw the navel to the spine.

Flat Ab Tip No. 5: Take Things Slow

There are no fast fixes, Barrett says. Even the promised quick fixes end up being temporary. "It's a goal. You have to plan on a slow and steady progression," she says.

Barrett says most people will experience set backs, roadblocks, and utter frustration along the way. Rewards come with time and consistency.

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