The secret to getting great abs

Get fit and fabulous abs. Celebrity personal trainer Bruce Krahn shares the keys to a flatter, tighter core

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core abs

Two steps to great abs

The quest for a flat stomach is big business. From those infomercial gadgets to miracle pills that promise a toned tummy, every year Canadians spend millions of dollars in pursuit of the holy grail of fitness-six-pack abs.

For many people this goal remains elusive, and that’s because toned, lean abs don’t come from gadgets or even from hundreds of sit-ups. While ab-specific training is one component of a well-rounded exercise program, no amount of crunches alone will give you the abs you want if you don’t also whittle away the layer of fat that may be padding your midsection. The key to achieving that involves two steps: Change how you eat, and burn off fat. Here’s how:

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salad healthy eating

1. Change your diet to lose fat

There is a saying among fitness professionals: Great abs are made in the kitchen, not at the gym. That’s because it’s easy to eat lots of calories, and very time-consuming to burn them off. Changing your diet to one that emphasizes lean proteins (such as chicken and fish), vegetables, fruit and essential fats (including omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and flaxseed) will help you to lose weight, including from your midsection. Also, cut down on your intake of refined foods, and save carbs such as bread, rice and cereal for your post-workout meal. That’s when your body is best able to manage the increase in blood sugar and insulin levels that occurs when you eat carbs.

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fitness gym workout

2. Skip crunches for cardio

Decreasing your caloric intake and increasing your activity is the most ?efficient way to reduce your percentage of body fat. Working your body as a whole and performing exercises that have the highest metabolic cost-meaning those that burn a lot of calories because they involve the greatest amount of muscle mass-is key to getting defined abs. Exer?cises that are great for that include compound movements such as squats and dead lifts, and hybrid movements such as lunge curls and squat presses. One of my favourite calorie-burning moves is the Thruster.

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thruster squat dumbbells weights


Note: Warm up by performing a few reps without any weight before proceeding to the weighted version.

A. Grab two dumbbells. If you’re just starting out, use light ones (three to five pounds each), but remember to progress to heavier weights when you feel ready. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and hold dumbbells at shoulder height with wrists straight.

B. Push your hips back and squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Return to the standing position and press both dumbbells overhead.

C. Lower dumbbells to shoulder height. Repeat move eight to 15 times; perform two to three sets. Be sure to increase the dumbbells’ weight when the exercise becomes too easy.

Tip: Keep your chest up, and upper back flexed. Tighten your core and press from your heels, not your toes.

Bruce Krahn is our fitness expert for the Best Health Challenge, a personal trainer and the bestselling author of The Fat-Fighter Diet.

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