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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. 6: Set Realistic Goals

Though it's not an excuse to explain away a soft midsection, your genes do play a role, Neporent says. For better or worse, you stand a chance of inheriting Mom's thick wavy hair and her dark circles. Same goes for other parts of the body.

"Sometimes, even very thin people can't get washboard abs," Neporent says. "Genetically their bodies want to hold on to the extra layer on the top."

That doesn't mean you can't improve your appearance, but it does mean you need to set realistic expectations. Not everyone can look like Beyonce, but you won't stand a chance if you're still sitting around with one hand in the candy jar.

More Exercises for Flat Abs

Ellen Barrett is a proponent of standing abdominal exercises, which integrate balance, coordination, and body awareness and also tone the core. Here are a few from her DVD Fat-Burning Fusion.

Canoe Twist: Stand upright, feet apart. Interlace all 10 fingers to the webbing of your hands to create a solid grip. Exhale, and sweep the interlocked hands, arms, shoulders, and chest to the left, as if "rowing a canoe." Simultaneously lift the left knee up and to the right. Inhale and return to the starting position. Exhale and perform the movement to the right. Alternate for 20 repetitions.

Cat Kick: Stand with feet together, arms extended out like airplane wings. Exhale, and lift the right leg forward and up. At the same time, sweep the arms forward at shoulder level and round the spine, like a cat. The navel should feel as though it's pressing toward the spine. Inhale, and open back up and return to the starting position. Repeat with the left leg, alternating for 20 repetitions.

Pilates Zip Up: Stand upright with the heels together, toes slightly turned out. Bring the arms up, into an "upright row" position, hands just underneath the chin. Exhale, press the arms down (as if pressing down on a box of dynamite), keeping the hands and arms very close to the body. Simultaneously, lift your heels off the ground onto your tiptoes. Hold for two seconds at the "top" and inhale and return to the starting position. The abs go "in and up" and the arms go down. Perform 20 repetitions.

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Reviewed on November 09, 2007

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