Conquer Your Stomach Pooch: The Best Stretch for Flat Abs


Noticed how many celebs with great bodies say they do yoga and Pilates? They may be on to something. An Auburn University at Montgomery study found that key Pilates moves challenge abdominal muscles to a substantially greater degree than crunches do. Yoga is also a great option, says Gillian Clark, creator of Yoga Booty Ballet and co-owner of Swerve Studio in Los Angeles. For a flatter stomach, she recommends the Dolphin Plank Pose. Heres how to do it:

Start on your knees, placing your forearms on a mat in an inverted V shape, clasping your hands, and pushing into the floor with your wrists.

Walk feet back until your toes curl under to support torso in an elongated, lengthened posture. Set shoulders directly over elbows, bringing your torso parallel to the floor.

Press front of thighs toward ceiling, while firmly drawing tailbone toward heels. Work up to 3 sets: the first for 40 seconds; the next, 90 seconds; the third, 21/2 minutes.

How to walk it off
Planks and crunches are good for strengthening abdominal muscles. But unless you burn off the fat, your six-pack may be obscured. The simplest way to get rid of fat is by doing vigorous cardio workouts, like running and walking, says Cris Slentz, PhD, of Duke University.

In a nine-month study, he found that subjects who stayed sedentary gained the most belly fat, had an 8.6 percent increase in visceral fat (the fat inside that surrounds vital organs), and put on two pounds. Those who did moderate exercise neither gained nor lost abdominal fat and dropped two pounds. And a group of participants who averaged 17 miles per week on the treadmill showed an average 7 percent decrease in ab fat and six-pound weight loss. “If you want to lower abdominal fat, you need to do vigorous cardio for 30 minutes or longer six days a week.” No time? Squeeze in a 15- to 20-minute walk before and after work, plus a long walk on Saturday or Sunday.
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