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Toned abs move #1: Sit your way to toned abs.
That’s right—you could be on the subway on the way to work, surfing the net at work or even watching the latest blockbuster flick as you tone your abs. You can do this pelvic plyometric anywhere, promises Barbara Grant, founder of Retrofit Pilates in Toronto. To do it, scoop your abs, squeeze your butt and contract your pelvic floor to roll back into a seated pelvic tilt. Hold for 10 seconds then release and quickly contract your muscles pulsing in and out of the tilt. “The trick is to relax your muscles completely and then quickly tighten them again,” says Grant. “Not only will this tone your low abs and waist, it will also keep your pelvic floor muscles strong and tight.”
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Toned abs move #2: Crunch your way to toned abs.
When you have a little more time and are feeling as motivated as a lazy girl can get, you truly can’t beat crunches to get you a flat stomach. “To get the most bang for the buck, my recommendation is the neutral spine crunch,” says Justin Vanderleest, a Toronto-based physiotherapist. It challenges the six-pack as much as a crunch, although only in a mid-range of motion, he says, but it is kinder to the spine because you’re not flexing the back as much.
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How to do it? Lie on the floor with your knees bent, ensuring your lower back doesn’t flatten on the floor but is in neutral position. “Your lower back should be touching the floor only lightly at the most,” says Vanderleest, who works at Live Active Sports Medicine and Athlete’s Care. Perform a crunch but without flattening your lower back—“you should be able to place a hand under your lower back while crunching.” Your shoulders will rise off the floor, but not by much. Vanderleest recommends doing these neutral spine crunches without a mat as your spine pressing into the floor (what you do not want to do) will be a slightly painful reminder to keep that lower back in neutral position. Once you master and strengthen your abs a bit, you can make this exercise more advanced by lifting one or both feet off of the floor.
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Toned abs move #3: Eat your way to toned abs.
Eat smart so you can beat the bloat and help reveal your flat tummy. Lay off the salty and greasy foods. “Salt can cause your body to retain water and fried foods take longer for your gastrointestinal system to break down and digest,” explains Dara Gurau, a dietitian based in Toronto. If you lack the enzyme lactase, then you’ll want to steer clear of dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yes, that favourite summertime treat, ice cream, because the lactose will cause you to bloat. Switch to lactose-free options (such as ones made with soy or almond milk) or use one of the pills on the market that helps you process lactose, says Gurau. And you might be surprised that one of your healthy endeavours—to eat more veggies—may be causing your belly to bulge. “A lot of vegetables that are high in fibre and good for you, such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, can cause you to bloat,” says Gurau. Everyone handles these food differently, she says—if they do affect you in this way, continue to eat them, but just in smaller quantities.
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Toned abs move #4: Stretch your way to toned abs.
Many of us with typical office gigs spend much of our day sitting in front of a computer. A quick stretch every hour can help you develop a long waist and improve your posture, says Grant. She recommends linking your fingers behind your head and bend back over the back of your chair as you reach your heart to the ceiling and pull your navel in.
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Toned abs move #5: Drink your way to toned abs.
You may be looking forward to hot summer evenings of drinking margaritas or sharing pitchers of sangria with friends, but excessive alcohol consumption does tend to make itself shown in the belly area (more so for men than women, but women are affected by it). It is more common with beer drinking, however, all types of alcohol can be a cause. This lovely gut happens because the enzymes that metabolize a large quantity of alcohol are concentrated in the abdominal region. So sip smartly this summer with virgin beverages and you’ll be rewarded with a trimmer midsection.
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