Abs

Want a flat stomach in time for your spring-break trip? Our fitness expert, Michelle Blakely-a Chicago personal trainer, USA weight-lifting coach and former dancer-dishes on how to get results, stat.

 (Photograph: Donna Rickles)
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Photograph: Donna RicklesFront support Get in push-up position and hold for 30 seconds. Advanced option (shown): Balance on your elbows, hold for up to one minute. During each of these moves, keep your abs and back muscles actively engaged.
 (Photograph: Donna Rickles)
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Photograph: Donna RicklesSide support Lie on your side with your shins perpendicular to your quads and prop up on your elbow. Lift your butt off the floor and hold for 30 seconds; switch sides. Advanced option (shown): Keep your legs straight.
 (Photograph: Donna Rickles)
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Photograph: Donna RicklesQuadraped Get in a crawl position, on your hands and knees. Lift and extend your right hand and left leg off the ground and keep your back flat like a tabletop. Hold for 30 seconds and switch. Advanced option (shown): After extending your hand and leg (hold for ten seconds), bring your elbow toward your knee so they’re almost touching under your stomach. Repeat six to ten times.
 (Photograph: Donna Rickles)
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Photograph: Donna RicklesSuperman Lie facedown on the floor with your hands extended forward, away from your head. Lift your right arm and left leg. Hold for 10 seconds and switch. Advanced option (shown): Lift both hands and feet at same time.
 (Photograph: Donna Rickles)
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Photograph: Donna RicklesBridge Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent as shown. Lift your butt by slowly curling your spine off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds. Advanced option: Lift one leg.

“Abs, unlike other muscles, can be worked every day,” Blakely (blakelyfit.com, 773-680-6824) says. She recommends these progressive exercises daily, plus at least three weekly sessions of 20 minutes of cardio (at an intensity that’s challenging, but still enables you to have a conversation with the guy next to you). Why does this routine work? “Instead of just engaging the rectus abdominus [the top layer of your six-pack, which crunches target], you’re engaging all of the different muscle layers—and most important, the transverse abdominus, the muscle that wraps around your core and pulls you in like a girdle,” Blakely says. As long as you don’t reward yourself for the extra exercise with diet splurges (like dessert, vending-machine fare and cocktails), within a month, you can expect a visibly firmer stomach.

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