If the thought of baring your midriff or squeezing into a bikini gives you nightmares, you've probably tried to lose your love handles and belly bulge and gotten frustrated with a lack of results and now have a garage full of dusty abdominal exercisers and separate sections of the closet for your "fat jeans" and your "skinny jeans." But don't give up just yet. Set aside just 30 minutes out of your day to whip your belly into shape with a thorough workout routine, using these recommended exercises, according to "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Weight Training: Third Edition."
Ban the Muffin Top
Start with 10 minutes of exercises targeting the front of the abdomen in general, which will work your upper abdominal muscles. This means, yes, good old-fashioned crunches. We all hate them, but surely you can do just 10 minutes a day, right? Lie on the floor with your knees bent. To maintain good form, don't bend your neck when you rise, lift at least 30 degrees, tilt your pelvis to press your lower back toward the floor and make your upper abdominal muscles do the bulk of the lifting. With this and all other sections of your routine, start with 25 repetitions per set with minimal rests between, working up to longer sets and shorter rests in the 10-minute period for each section as you get stronger.
Keep the Aprons in the Kitchen
The lower section of the abdomen is tougher to target, especially if you have limited equipment or just work out at home. But the reverse crunch will help give you Mother Nature's tummy tuck and help you keep the "apron" in the kitchen where it belongs. Lie on your back as you did with the crunch, but start with your legs in the air at a 90-degree angle. Then lift your feet straight up toward the ceiling. This can be a very small movement, and can be very intense, but remember -- no one wants to be asked when the baby's due if they aren't pregnant. Remember that when you want to quit, and remember to keep your back pressed toward the floor for good form.
How Bleak it is When You Have Love Handles
For the last 10 minutes, target your oblique muscles on the sides of your torso. This will help get rid of those love handles and just might make your love life a little less bleak. The exercises that target these muscles are the twisting crunches, where you lift one elbow toward the opposite side, usually with the opposite knee bent so the ankle rests on your other knee. Remember again not to bend at the neck, but lift and twist the body. And don't just take your elbow to the knee -- remember what your first-grade teacher told you about how when you cheat, you're really just cheating yourself.
Your Abs Are What You Eat
So in 30 minutes a day you can get a thorough workout of all your abdominal muscles, but don't forget to watch what you eat, also. All of the crunches in the world aren't going to erase a daily trip through the Krispy Kreme drive-thru. Count your calories, and especially watch that fat and sugar intake. And don't neglect your cardio workouts to reduce overall body fat and let those six-pack abs shine through.
- The Complete Idiot's Guide To Weight Training: Third Edition; Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, Joe Glickman
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