5 Ab building tips

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Stand tall
When you're walking, stand tall and picture a cape flowing off your shoulders, Superman-style, to ensure your best posture. A taller posture will give you the appearance of being slimmer, while also training your abs to stay taut and firm. Another good trick is to think of your back as a wall and your gut as a piece of furniture pushed up against the wall to keep it from buckling.

Watch your back
Contrary to popular belief, your abs aren't found just around your navel. They're an intricate system of muscles, connecting to your rib cage, your hips, and even your backbone. To have strong abs, you need not only stomach exercises but also lower-back strength and exercises for your obliques (the abdominal muscles that run down the sides of your torso).

Avoid the four-letter word
When you lose weight on a "diet," muscle is the first thing to go. It's more expensive for your body to retain than fat is, so when you run low on calories, your body dumps muscle mass and turns it into energy. When you go off the diet, you begin to gain back the pounds - but because you now have less calorie-burning muscle, the weight you gain is fat. By dieting, you've effectively turned muscle into fat.

Tune in to muscle
Maybe you've heard of "muscle memory": the way your body learns to do a physical activity (like riding a bike) and never forgets. Well, your abs have a memory, too. If you consciously keep your abs firm throughout the day, they'll tend to stay firm even when you're relaxed.

Put exercise first
Research suggests that the best way to eat less at a meal is to work out right before it. This works in several ways:

  • You're less hungry when your metabolism is revving, such as right after a workout.
  • You're thirstier, so you drink more water, which uses up space in your stomach and relieves hunger.
  • With your metabolism revved, the calories you do eat get burned for energy pronto- not stored as fat.

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