If you're like most women, you've been struggling to flatten your stomach for about two decades now. Why? Because you think achieving enviable abs is complicated. Don't be fooled! If you're smart with your strategy, scoring a flat belly is actually incredibly simple. Follow these three steps and you'll have a flat belly in no time.
Step 1: Exercise
But not so fast with the crunches! It takes 250,000 crunches to burn one pound of fat. And working those muscles underneath won't matter if you still have a layer of fat covering them. Plus, crunches are one of the main culprits of back injuries, according to recent research. You won't look so good on the beach if you're bent over with an achy back. Instead, try these core-stabilization exercises to build the strong, sleek, sexy stomach you're after:
Pushup: Get down on all fours and place your hands on the floor so that they're slightly wider than your shoulders. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause at the bottom, and then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as possible. If your hips sag at any point during the exercise, your form has broken down. Consider that your last repetition and end the set.
Plank: Start to get into a pushup position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of on your hands. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Brace your core by contracting your abs as if you were about to be punched in the gut. Hold this position while breathing deeply.
Hip raises: Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for up to 5 seconds in the up position, then lower your body back to the starting position.
Also use combo exercises, which target more than one muscle group, to get your heart pumping and ramp up your metabolism for up to 48 hours after your workout.
Step 2: De-Stress
When stress is high, a hormone called cortisol shoots up. And high cortisol levels equal high belly fat. Take at least 10 to 15 minutes a day to decompress and reduce your cortisol levels, and a flat stomach will be one less thing to worry about. Some ideas for de-stressing:
Slip into a hot bubble bath with lavender
Stretch or do yoga poses in silence
Write each day in a dedicated journal
Laugh (even if you don't feel like laughing!)
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