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The No-Crunch Workout

Add this sneaky abs-tightening trick to your total-body workout, and get a rock-hard stomach.

When you’re on the street, take notice of the guy at the construction site: he’s climbing a ladder, twisting, working with both hands. He’s not just isolating one muscle group—he’s using his biceps, quads, and his abs for balance. Or consider the hockey player taking a slap shot: he uses his abs as he shifts his weight from one leg to the other for rotational power. Any movement you do outside the gym uses your abs as stabilizers, and so should your functional raining program. If you’re just doing crunches—like most people—you’re training them wrong.

The abdominals can be broken down into four parts: the transversus abdominis (TVA), internal oblique, external oblique, and the rectus abdominis. Until you build up strength, train your abdominals in this order because that’s the sequence for fatigue.

Most people have difficulty activating the TVA, since it is the innermost abdominal muscle. But it’s a very important muscle, as it supports your spine. To strengthen it, try step one, below. When you can do that move easily, move on to steps two and three.

STEP ONE Lie down on your back, with knees bent. Bring your belly button in toward your spine. Make sure you’re able to breathe through your diaphragm and can speak during this movement. Hold for 10 seconds. Do two to three sets of 10 reps. Once you can do this move, try it again with your legs straight, then go onto the next step.

STEP TWO Identical to step one, but with an added Kegel exercise (like trying to cut off urine flow, where you tighten the pelvic floor). Again, hold for 10 seconds. Do two to three sets of 10 reps. Move on to the next step after you can handle this with ease.

STEP THREE Like step two. But this time lift one leg slightly off the floor. Hold for 10 seconds. Do two to three sets of 10 reps, and then do the other leg.


Once you learn how to activate the TVA properly, you can consciously engage it while doing the following exercises. Using your TVA will become easier and easier, and you’ll be stronger.

Do this with your hands on the floor or on a bosu, a device that looks like half a stability ball with a solid base. Before each push-up, activate your TVA by drawing your belly button up toward your spine. Starting from a raised position, do a push-up. Then, in the raised position, do a twist by putting your left leg under your right and turning your right hip up. Return your legs to parallel and do another push-up, followed by a twist to the opposite side. Do as many reps as possible. This exercise works your chest, triceps, and core.



Take a light dumbbell in your left hand. Hold it up over your head. Activate your TVA, drawing in your belly button. Lunge forward with your right leg, and step back to the starting position. Do 10 to 12 reps, then alternate for another set, with the weight in your right hand and lunging with your left leg. Once you advance, use a heavier weight or hold a dumbbell in each hand. Not only are you working your legs, but also your shoulders, back, and abdominal muscles. Your core helps you balance.

How tough it can be to drop those last 10 pounds

10 Surefire Tips to Shed 10 Pounds — Fast!

We know how tough it can be to drop those last 10 pounds — the ones that tend to linger around your midsection and upper torso like annoying party guests who won’t take the hint that it’s time to hit the road. That’s why we’ve put together 10 tips to help you drop that pesky blubber like a bad habit. Read on to find out how.

1. Drink 13 cups of fluid daily.

According to the Institute of Medicine, water should be your primary source of hydration: at least eight glasses daily. Of the remainder, try to avoid sodas and juices with their sky-high carb counts. A study published in the journal Metabolism established more than a decade ago that thorough hydration results in whole-body fat burning, called lipolysis. Other studies confirm this relationship.

2. Eat your higher-glycemic-index carbohydrates before 6 p.m.

After 6, you should switch to low-glycemic-index carb sources. For example, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, asparagus and salads, which are often referred to as low-energy-density carbs, should comprise the bulk of your evening carbs. Low-energy-density carbs reduce the number of calories you ingest and still deliver a greater volume of food than high-energy-density carbs. You’ll feel fuller. Additionally, most low-energy-density carbohydrates contain lots of fluid to help meet your daily intake quota.


3. Work out at the time of day when you have the most energy.

Whether you’re pumping iron, doing a street bicycle ride or swimming laps, you’ll be able to push harder, engage a maximum number of muscle fibers and complete the workout. Since there’s no formula to ascertain what’s best for you, experiment to find your best time and then treat it like a must-attend appointment.

4. Stock your office drawer and glove compartment with clean snacks.

These could include low-calorie protein bars, rice cakes, natural peanut butter and assorted unsalted nuts, preferably raw. Ensure at least some of these snacks are high in dietary fiber (DF); also known as “roughage,” DF is the nondigestible portion of the foods we eat and, according to the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, the consumption of DF-heavy foods has been associated with increased satiety and weight loss. Great sources of DF include dried apricots, grapefuit, bananas and apples. Just don’t overdo it with these fruits — they do contain plenty of fructose.

5. Get competitive.

Find a workout partner to keep you accountable and motivated. Research shows that competition helps drive effort and ultimately success, especially when it comes to weight loss. It also provides a fantastic hormone buzz according to research coming out of the University of Nebraska; a study comparing the testosterone production of competitive athletes discovered their hormone levels spiked in preparation for an athletic competition, and skyrocketed if they happened to win that competition. Now we’re not advocating that you yell “I’ll crush you!” at your workout partner before hitting the weights together, but a healthy level of friendly rivalry could benefit you both.

6. Eat every 2–3 hours.

This will keep your metabolism revving throughout the day and help you avoid energy sags that often lead to binge eating or indulging in junk foods later in the day. But if recent evidence published in the journal Cell Metabolism is accurate, you may want to put yourself on the clock even further: researchers at the Salk Institute discovered that mice fed on a time-restricted diet (8 hours a day) were better protected against obesity and other metabolic ills versus mice who were allowed to eat around the clock. The scientists believe the result may speak to the fact that our livers, intestines, muscles and other organs work at peak efficiency during our most productive hours, when we are the most active. As a result, you should avoid any late-night noshing. But any meal you eat should contain both protein and carbs — the carbs deliver energy and the protein helps your body maintain a positive nitrogen balance.

7. Never skip breakfast.

In fact, it should be the most substantial meal of the day, loaded with complex carbs and protein. According to research at the University of Missouri, protein-and-carb breakfasts help your brain control appetite and regulate your food intake. When you’re on a fat-loss plan, a substantial breakfast can reduce the hunger pangs you feel later in the evening.

8. Replace processed carbs with healthy alternatives.

Substitute breads, pasta and boxed cereals in favor of whole-grain breads, steel-cut oats, whole-grain or multi-grain pasta, yams and sweet potatoes, brown and wild rice and baked potatoes (be sure to eat the skins).

9.What makes steel-cut oats the best choice?

One word: purity. Steel-cut oats are the closest to the source, in that they’re the least processed. The oats are simply hulled, toasted, then roughly chopped and packaged. Rolled oats and quick-cooking oats, however, are steamed and rolled between industrial rollers to create flakes. The steaming and flattening process helps them cook more quickly but also takes away some of their healthful properties. In a pinch, any oats are a good option — but providing you have the 45 minutes to fully cook them, steel-cut oats are best. Of course, you can nuke ’em in about five minutes.

10. Eliminate or limit your booze consumption.

The truth is that even one beer or glass of wine will dramatically slow your metabolism, especially when you’ve gone to great lengths to boost your body’s ability to melt fat. Additionally, the World Health Organization has found alcohol to be carcinogenic in animals and humans.

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