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Thursday, May 10, 2012
By Karen Kwan
With cropped tops making a comeback this season, you might be scrambling to tone that midriff of yours. A toned, flat set of abs, after all, is what you want to be baring, and your core’s been looking more doughy than defined lately. When it comes to revealing your six pack, though, there are many ways many of us are going about it wrong:
You’re only doing crunches. “A lot of people have the misconception that they can ‘spot train’ and sadly this isn’t the case!” says Sammie Kennedy, founder of Booty Camp Fitness. “If someone relied on just doing crunches they may develop the six pack they desire but it would be hidden under a layer of fat.” She recommends doing a variety of core-specific moves but also balancing it with cardio and resistance training to reduce fat and develop a lean, sculpted figure all around.
You’re always doing crunches at the same pace. It’s great you’re working out your core, but you may benefit both physically and mentally to change things up, says Kennedy, as it’ll keep you stimulated. She suggests alternating speeds (“For example do 20 seconds of bicycle crunches at a steady pace, 20 seconds ‘sprinting,’ then return to 20 seconds steady. Repeat this minute-long set three times to really feel a burn in the abdominals.”). Or if you really want to maximize your exercise time, she proposes performing a tabata0style core workout (where you perform your selected move at your maximum capacity for 20 seconds, rest for 10 and repeat eight times).
You’re sacrificing good form. “So many women tend to let their chin rest on their chest,” says Kennedy. “This incorrect form will lead to sore neck muscles and will not properly target the core region.” In her camps, Kennedy advises her recruits to imagine that they have a grapefruit tucked between their chin and chest and to keep the chin pointed to the ceiling. “A number of ladies actually tuck their water bottle in there to force themselves to use correct form until it becomes a habit!” she says.
You’re diligently doing 100 of the same crunches. Rather than doing 100 basic (and possibly boring!) crunches, Kennedy suggests choosing five different core moves and doing each 20 times.
You’re eating bloating foods. Your hard work is going to waste if your diet is filled with foods that are causing you belly bloat. Monitor your diet and see what types of foods cause you to swell. For Kennedy, switching to a gluten- and lactose-free diet really helped her to reduce bloating and swelling, and helped reveal a more toned and sculpted figure.