Be Your Own Personal Trainer: Abs

Whatever your trouble spots or workout style, we have the key tips to help you get the results you've always wanted.



? THE GYM EXPERT Jamie Myerscough, chief executive of Educogym,

- THE RUNNER John O?Regan, Irish international ultra runner,

? THE PILATES PRO Milena Jaksic Byrne, co-owner of Platinum Pilates,



Two things make the vital difference to your abs: 1) Reducing body fat. A layer of pesky fat unfortunately hides all the good work we may have done to tighten up the six pack. 2) According to research, high-intensity training is the most effective way to release growth hormone. Three short sessions per week when performed correctly will flood your body with fat-burning goodness. Then it's a matter of hitting the abs from all angles. A short ab routine performed quickly will encourage the fat to move elsewhere. Fat is lazy and it tends to collect in areas that get the least amount of movement. You don't often see a person with fat calves, right? Active tissue doesn't normally collect fat, so hit the abs from all angles. A set of 20 crunches, 20 side crunches and three sets of 10 knee raises performed straight on and to each side will do the trick. Be careful in your moment of enthusiasm, when trying to remove the love handles, not to build the obliques (muscles on the side), as this can thicken your waist and take away from your shape.


Staying upright and moving forward switches on the stabilising muscles in the stomach area, and the faster you move, the more they are required. The more they are used, the more toned they become, but the key is ensuring that they are engaged. This means running tall rather than hunched over. Think of correcting your posture, and this will engage the muscles of the core that help maintain stability. The other thing to master is running tall. Keep your hips forward and shoulders back. Keep your head up and look forward rather than at the ground directly in front of you. Try to actively engage the stomach area by tightening up while staying tall. Imagine anticipating a punch to that area and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat when you feel recovered and try for 10-20 repetitions.


Criss cross is one of the Pilates classics, and it has the best effect for targeting your tummy and obliques. Lie on your back, with your hands behind your head. Lift your legs into table-top position. Then stretch your left leg out long and hover just above the floor. As you do this, bring your left elbow over to meet your right knee that's still holding its position. Make sure you use your hands to help lift your head and shoulders up. Then swap sides. Reach your right leg out and bring your right elbow to meet your left knee. Do it slowly to start with, and as you get stronger, you can pick up speed.

This article originally appeared in the April issue of IMAGE magazine.?


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