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Old 12-04-2017, 10:09 AM   #1
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Lose up to 4 pounds and 3 inches in 7 days with this incredibly effective, easy-to-follow routine

By Marianne McGinnis

Surprise! Good ol' crunches are one of the fastest ways to firm your midsection. (Hate crunches? Bear with us.) Thanks to 5 decades of research and nearly 90 studies, scientists have zeroed in on the best moves to flatten your belly. The secret is to really fatigue your abs--not an easy task, because they're used to working all day to keep you standing tall But we created a routine that, when combined with regular cardio, does it in just four moves.

We know for sure because we had nearly a dozen women road-test the program as part of our Prevention Fitness Lab. "I couldn't believe the difference a few days made," says Gwen Hoover, 48, of Fogelsville, PA, who whittled more than 2 inches off her middle, lost 14% of her belly fat, and dropped nearly 4 pounds in just 1 week! Even our slimmest testers saw impressive results. At 5-foot-6 and 125 pounds, Rachelle Vander Schaaf, 49, of Macungie, PA, wasn't expecting to see a big change, but she shaved more than 3 inches off her belly--without dieting. You can too! Start now and show off an all-around leaner belly for the rest of the summer season.

Program at a Glance

3 DAYS A WEEK Do the fourmove Slim Belly routine on 3 nonconsecutive days to tone your midsection.

5 DAYS A WEEK Do 30 to 40 minutes of cardio, such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging, or bike riding, to burn off belly fat. You should be breathing hard but still able to talk in short sentences.

EVERY DAY Watch portions and fill up on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats to maximize results. Aim for 1,600 to 1,800 calories spread evenly throughout the day. To keep tabs on your eating, go to prevention. com/healthtracker.


DAY Activity

MON Abs and Cardio

TUE Cardio

WED Rest

THU Abs and Cardio

FRI Rest

SAT Abs and Cardio

SUN Cardio

Slim Belly Workout

Do 3 sets of each move, performing as many reps (1 second up, 1 second down) as possible until you feel a burning sensation in the muscles you're working or you can no longer maintain proper form. rest 15 seconds between sets. You'll likely be able to do more reps during earlier sets and exercises--and that's okay. after you can do 50 reps or hold a plank for 2 minutes for most sets, try the harder variations, change the order of the exercises, or do the moves after another type of workout.

1. Hipless Crunch

This variation better targets abs by preventing hips and upper body from helping you lift.

Lie on back with legs lifted and bent, calves parallel to floor, and feet relaxed. Cross arms over chest with hands on shoulders. Contract abdominal muscles and lift head, shoulders, and upper back about 30 degrees off floor. Lower without touching head to floor. Exhale as you lift; inhale as you lower. *Prevention Fitness Lab testers averaged 25 reps per set.

MAKE IT EASIER Rest calves on a chair and extend arms down at sides.

MAKE IT HARDER Extend legs straight up.


Don't pull chin toward chest.

Focus on abs doing the work; imagine sliding rib cage toward hips.


You start pulling or jerking up with head, neck, or shoulders.

You can't keep neck or shoulders relaxed.

2. No-Hands Reverse Crunch

Instead of keeping arms at sides, where they can help abs, anchor them overhead to activate more belly muscles. Lie faceup with arms overhead and hands grasping a heavy piece of furniture or railing. Raise feet into the air with legs bent. Contract abs, press back into floor, and lift hips off floor. Exhale as you lift; inhale as you lower. *Prevention Fitness Lab testers averaged 21 reps per set.

MAKE IT EASIER Do the move with arms down at sides.

MAKE IT HARDER Straighten legs.


Feel the contraction in abs, not in back or legs.

Tilt pelvis.

Think of lifting up instead of pulling knees toward chest.


You can't lift hips off floor without jerking.

Neck and shoulders are tense.

3. V Crunch

This exercise gets your upper and lower body moving simultaneously to recruit the maximum number of muscle fibers in your midsection. Balance on tailbone with legs bent, feet off floor, and arms bent at sides. Make sure back is straight and chest is lifted. Lean back and extend arms and legs, then pull back to start position. *Prevention Fitness Lab testers averaged 11 reps per set.

MAKE IT EASIER Grasp sides of thighs with hands.

MAKE IT HARDER Hold a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell in each hand.


Eyes gaze straight forward; keep chin parallel to floor.

Don't let back curve or shoulders rise toward ears.


You can't keep arms or legs up.

You can't keep chest lifted.

Back or neck starts to hurt.

4. Side Plank

Static balancing moves like this one are challenging because your deepest abs work really hard to hold your core in midair. Do them after crunches to ensure complete fatigue--and firm abs from every angle. Lie on right side, elbow beneath shoulder, feet stacked, left hand on hip. Contract abs to lift hip and leg off floor. Hold until fatigued, noting your time. Do 3 sets before switching sides.

*Prevention Fitness Lab testers averaged 19 seconds per side for each set.

MAKE IT EASIER Bend legs and balance on bottom knee and side of lower leg.

MAKE IT HARDER Straighten top arm toward sky.


Keep head, neck, torso, hips, and legs all in one straight line.

Don't sink into shoulder--press elbow into floor and lift torso.


Hip is sagging toward floor.

Neck, shoulder, or back hurts.

You can't keep body in line.

THE EXPERT Tony Caterisano, PhD, exercise scientist and professor in the department of health sciences at Furman University, designed this workout.


50 Years of Flat Abs

Workouts to flatten belly bulge have changed plenty over the last half century--but each ab evolution brought us one step closer to the ultraeffective routine we're using today. Here, a look back at the most popular belly busters.

'60s/'70s Old-School Sit-Up

It targets only the topmost belly muscle (the rectus abdominis), and your hip muscles do a lot of the lifting. Straight-leg versions are also particularly tough on the back.

'80s The Crunch

When studies revealed that the first 30% of a sit-up engages abs the most, crunches became popular. But good form is key: feet off the floor; don't pull on your head.

'90s/'00s Plank Pose

This Pilates move may work abs harder than crunches, but done alone, it may not fully fatigue abs. Planks rely on smaller muscles that often tire more quickly.

2010 The Slim Belly Workout

IT WORKS! Researchers placed electrodes (like those used for EKGS) on the bellies of hundreds of people as they crunched, balanced, and twisted to find the most effective moves.

McGinnis, Marianne

Last edited by saraohyland; 04-02-2018 at 02:44 AM.
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