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“Nobody wants a little tight a**”

 
I believe a wise man once said, “First of all, we gon' work on the stomach. Nobody wants a little tight a**”.  The wise man: Kanye.  The message: while it may be acceptable to have some bootyliciousness going on, the same rule doesn’t apply to the midriff.  The tummy tends to be an area of utmost insecurity for many girls, since it’s often the first area to show signs of weight gain and bloat.  Be it one too many beer pong championships, over-excused late night take-outs, or a jaunt or two in excess to ice-cream social, something has given the tummy quite a beating during college.  
 

 
What to do? Fight back!  Incorporating ab exercises into your regular workout routine will keep your abs in check and your mind at ease—and sometimes the traditional sit-up just won’t cut it. Equinox personal trainer and fitness expert Christian Swain suggests an ab routine of five effective moves to give you the abs you haven’t seen since high school.  It’s time to trade in the maternity-like wear for a shirt made of—dare I say it—spandex.
 
“All the mocha lattes, you gotta do pilates”-- 5 moves for a 6 pack

The Plank
Get on the floor as if you were going to do a push-up. Lift your body up using only your forearms.  Stay in this position for as long as you can before you break form. Time yourself and increase duration. For example, the first time, try it for 30 seconds. The second time, try to hold form up to one minute. This move strengthens your entire core.
 

Note: Be careful not to let your back start to dip inward, as you may put unwanted strain on your lower back. It is very important to keep your body parallel with the floor. You want to sustain a neutral spine.

Bicycle
 
Lie on your back with your hands behind your head with your feet off the ground and your knees bent. Alternate twisting your right elbow to your left knee (and vice versa) as you "pedal" in the air. Start by pedaling back and forth 50 times, then try working your way up from there. This move strengthens your obliques.
 

Note: In order to make this move work as effectively as possible, make sure you are rotating far enough to each side. Aim your elbow to the outside of the opposing knee, exaggerating your rotations for best results.

Leg lifts

Lie on your back on the floor, put your arms at your sides, pressing your palms against the floor with your legs straight in the air, toes pointing to the ceiling. Lift your butt up as far as you can while keeping your legs straight. Do three sets of 15. This move strengthens abs. Most people think this exercise targets their "lower abs"; however, there is no delineation between lower and upper abs—they are one and the same.
 

Note: You can mess this move up by moving too aggressively, which might strain your lower back.  Do this move slowly and with care!
 
V Sit-up
 
Lie with your back on the floor and both hands over your head and your legs outstretched. In one motion, sit up lifting your legs off the ground and your upper body off the ground to form a V.  This is an advanced ab exercise, so start off with five sets of 10. It engages your core and involves balance and coordination.

Note: Make sure the timing is right. Your legs and upper body must move together in order to reap the greatest benefit from this move.

Superman

Lie on your stomach, your hands outstretched above your head. Lift your arms and legs and head into the air like you are Superman and flying in the air. Do 3 sets of 10.  The Superman strengthens your lower back. This exercise is generally overlooked by most people when they are trying to improve their abs, but your core doesn’t stop with your abdominal muscles.  You don't want to only target one area of the core; make sure you don't neglect your lower back muscles.

“Eat yo’ salad, no dessert”
 


 
Swain agrees with Kanye on this one.  Ab exercises alone won’t give you the flat tummy you seek. It is important to complement your ab routine with cardio exercises and healthier eating to see the biggest results.  He emphasizes, “Before you get started with an ab routine, it is important to know there is a common misconception that performing ab exercises trims or reduces body fat around the midsection. In order to see results, you must combine these movements with healthy eating. Crunches alone won't give you abs. In order to be lean, you have to eat healthy and be active. You have to reduce body fat to reveal abs.” 
 

 
So get out there and move! Don’t get stuck in a cardio or ab routine alone.  Try mixing the two together to see your tummy fall flat, excess weight slide off, and muscles reveal themselves.  Soon, you’ll be turning a 6-roll into a 6-pack.
 
 
Sources
 
Christian Swain, Equinox Fitness Trainer
 
Amanda Granson, Model, Athlete
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua61XY84gGg&feature=related
 

Aylin is a senior Government concentrator at Harvard with a citation in German. An avid traveler and lover of languages, Aylin was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, although spending a lot of her childhood in Turkey and Germany. She is a self-proclaimed “foodie” — loves everything food, from home cooking to fine dining . In her sophomore year summer, she went backpacking through Western Germany, researching and writing for the “Let’s Go: Europe” travel guide. She has contributed to several on-campus publications. Her junior year summer, she interned as a production assistant for chef Bobby Flay and Alex Guarnaschelli’s Food Network shows filmed in New York City. She also interned for author and nutritionist Natalia Rose. An entrepreneur at heart, she'd ideally love to open a chain of high-end, health-minded restaurants. Her passions include piano, tennis, and dark chocolate.
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