If your goal is to fit into Armani's midriff-baring design, Charles Poliquin believes the key to a flat stomach lies in diet, strength training and a little relaxation. "Stress affects the way we store fat," explains Poliquin, who is considered one of the world's most successful strength coaches. "Women who have trouble losing weight in their abdominal region have high levels of cortisol as a result of stress." Poliquin adds that applying licorice root gel on your abs every morning will help your hormones reset themselves. If you use a little every morning, you'll see results in 10 to 14 days. As for gym time, Poliquin advises staying clear of continuous cardio, as it increases the body's cortisol levels. Instead, opt for interval training. Run or bike for 45 seconds as fast as you can, then reduce to a slower recovery speed for two minutes. Repeat six times. To tone abs, Poliquin says two key moves are all you need:
TRY Swiss crunches for the upper abs.
• Place a Swiss ball in the middle of the floor. Lie back so that your lower back is resting on the ball.
• With hands behind your head, exhale, contracting your abdominals to lift your torso away from the ball.
• Hold at the top for two seconds, then inhale as you return to starting position.
• Do until fatigued (about 20 to 25 repetitions).
TRY Low cable pull-ins to strengthen the lower abs.
• Attach a loop or weight belt to the low end of a cable pulley.
• Lie on your back in front of the machine and hook legs through loop. Your knees should be bent and the loop resting on your lower thighs.
•Place hands under your butt.
•Exhale, pulling knees toward chest. Keep your spine flat to ensure the lower abs are doing the lifting.
•Hold at the top range for two seconds, then return to start.
•Do until fatigued (about 10 to 15 repetitions).
Photo courtesy of Elayne Laken