IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Bikini belly busters — 10 ways to improve abs

It's bikini season — which means it’s time to get your body in shape. Need a little motivation to get fit and toned for the season? David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of “Men’s Health” and author of “The Abs Diet for Women,” shares these simple and easy-to-follow tips:Getting a flat belly and concrete-hard abs isn’t just about the hope of landing a modeling gig or a lingering stare.

It's bikini season — which means it’s time to get your body in shape. Need a little motivation to get fit and toned for the season? David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of “Men’s Health” and author of “The Abs Diet for Women,” shares these simple and easy-to-follow tips:

Getting a flat belly and concrete-hard abs isn’t just about the hope of landing a modeling gig or a lingering stare. It’s also one of the surest signs of good health. Study after study, in fact, shows that people with smaller waistlines live longer than those with bigger ones. While it’s true that you can’t turn a landfill of a belly into a thin one overnight, you can use these smart strategies and quick tips to get a beach-ready body in no time flat.

Eat more than you think

When some people go on diets, they tend to think they have to starve themselves. But the truth is that dieting isn’t about deprivation and starvation; it’s about eating enough times throughout the day to keep your metabolism moving — and your fat burning. A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, for instance, found that those people who ate four or more meals a day had half the risk of becoming overweight compared to those who ate three or fewer times. My recommendation: Three meals and three snacks of foods with good nutrients, like protein, fiber, calcium, good fats, and whole grains. If you’re ever hungry when you’re on the Abs Diet, then you’re doing it wrong.

Power up early

For a lot of people, it’s as easy to fly past breakfast as it is to flick past America’s Got Talent. But the truth is that jump-starting your metabolism goes hand-in-hand with jump-starting your day. In one study of nearly 3,000 people, researchers at Harvard University found that those who ate breakfast every day were 44 percent less likely to be overweight than those who didn’t have breakfast.

Live a little

Though I don’t advise cheating if you want a successful marriage or successful IRS audit, I do endorse you cheat if you want a successful diet. One meal a week, have whatever you want. Psychologically, it will help prevent you from chronic ab-ruining binges — because you know you have a reward at the end of the week. But it works physiologically, too: Research has shown that an occasional cheat meal actually speeds your metabolism.

Lift a little

Some women may be as afraid of weights as certain stars are afraid of prison. But one secret to getting a flat stomach is through adding lean muscle all over your body, which will help you burn fat for a long time, even after you’ve finished exercising. If you do it the right way, it will give a long, lean and sexy look, not the bulk of Hulk. A recent Ohio University study found that a short but hard workout had the same effect as longer workouts. The way to do it: Circuit training, which means you work one muscle group one after another with little rest in between.

Wander the halls

I’ve got nothing against e-mail, IM, and comfortable desk chairs, but you need to find ways to get up more, move more, and burn more.An Australian study found that workers whose jobs require more than six hours of chair time a day are up to 68 percent more likely to wind up overweight or obese than those who sit less.

Do this move

While you’re burning the fat on the outside, you should also be tightening your abs on the inside. Here’s one Pilates move that can tighten your belly. Lie on your back with your legs extended along the floor. Raise your left leg toward the ceiling, with toes pointed and hands at your sides, palms down. Hold for 10 to 60 seconds. Make a small circle on toward the ceiling with your left toes, rotating your leg from your hip. Keep your body as still as possible by tightening your abs. Do six circles, then reverse direction for six more. Repeat with the other leg.

Sweat it out

While there’s nothing wrong with long, steady runs or swims for improving your cardiovascular health, research shows that more intense cardiovascular exercise — called interval workouts, where you alternate periods of high-intensity and low-intensity work — are more effective for burning fat. One Canadian study found that people who did this kind of exercise burned more fat than those who exercised at the same speed. I recommend one or two short sessions a week.

Blend this

Smoothies are the ultimate abs food — like a trip to Dairy Queen — because you can pack your blender with good-for-you ingredients that will satiate your stomach and please your taste buds. Try dumping these in a blender and having it for a meal or snack: 1 cup 1% chocolate milk, 1 banana, 2 tablespoons vanilla yogurt, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, 2 teaspoons chocolate whey protein powder, and 6 ice cubes. And take your time while watching it whirl. A Penn State study found that people who drank yogurt shakes that had been blended until they doubled in volume ate about 100 fewer calories a day than those who drank shakes of normal thickness.

Dress down

This time of year, you spend a good amount of time thinking about how much clothing you won’t be wearing. But consider this next time you’re flipping around in your closet: According to a study by the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, wearing comfortable clothing to work may boost your daily calorie burn by 8 percent.

Know the emergency drill

If you need to look as hard as a suit of armor, say, right this very minute, do what some models do just before the cameras click. Do a series of fast crunches (or push-up and squats). That forces more blood into your muscles, and more blood flow equals more tone.

Form more information you can visit the Men's Health Web site: www.menshealth.com