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Sports & Fitness
November 26, 2015

Party Prep: Get Crop Top Ready

Text by Simone Louis. Gifs via giphy.com, images via Instagram

Winter belly – what’s that? This festive season, it’s time to uncover those abs for merrymaking that’s fashionable, fabulous and fantastically fit

Whether paired with shorts for a fun pool party or a svelte, high-waisted skirt for a glam night out, there’s no denying the cool factor that a crop top can add to one’s ensemble. Although the midriff-baring trend crept up on us this summer, it is unquestionably set to run right into the last stretch of the year – better known as party season. It’s biggest enemy, though? Those unappealing little tummy bulges.

Pretty much every single year, we’ve all been through the feeling of absolute panic in the weeks following Diwali, having indulged in sweet treats and big meals to our hearts’ content. Jeans become extra snug around the waistband, scaring most of us into crash diets that evidently do no good. This time, we’re here to help you make the right decisions.

Before we hook you up with our ultimate abdominal-shaping workout, here are a few tips for fat-burning that will help supplement it:

1. Sleep soundly: In the weeks leading up to December, think twice about staying up late at night. Your biorhythms being off and you being tired causes the body to produce more ghrelin (aka the hunger hormone), triggering cravings for sugar and fried foods. The loss of sleep also alters hormone production and cortisol levels that cause insulin sensitivity…key reasons for belly fat. Sleeping for at least 7 hours a night could be the best things to do for your body-sculpting targets.

2. Eat fat: You read that right. It takes fat to burn fat; essential fatty acids (EFAs) to be more specific. Good fats come from food that is rich in Omega 3 – mainly fish like salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel, as well as other foodstuff like coconuts, avocados and walnuts. Packed with nutrients, these will keep you satiated all day.

3. Go slow on the salt: Consuming too much causes the body to hold on to water in order to maintain the correct sodium balance. Certain foods contain salt naturally, and your body needs that to be healthy. But reducing additional salt in your diet will go a long way when you’re trying to lose that gut.

4. Drink black or green: A cup of black coffee contains pretty much no calories. One with sugar and cream or milk, however, has almost a hundred. The same principle applies to your daily chai. In fact, green tea is known to contain bioactive matter that can enable you to burn more calories even while resting.

5. Wake up your heart: It’s important to understand that it is impossible to preferentially target belly fat. No amount of crunches are going to simply tone your midriff, because behind every sculpted stomach is a plan that comprises strength exercises, smart eating and, most importantly, cardio. Get moving, get sweaty and get that heart pumping.

WORK IT OUT!

Now that you’re equipped with our fat-blasting secrets, it’s time to work those abs! Do each of the following exercises four days a week, alternating with cardio routines like running, swimming, cycling, skipping and aerobic workouts.
[Stick to this plan based on your own physical comfort level and do take into account any health issues you may have. If you are not familiar with or have never done these exercises before, it might be wise to enlist the help of a trained professional.]

HIGH KNEES

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1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, looking straight ahead with your arms by your side.
2. Run in place, bringing your knees as high up to your chest as possible, pumping your arms in motion at the same time.
3. Avoid landing flat-footed, but rather on the balls of your feet.
4. To work more muscles, continue the movement while jumping sideways from one foot to the other. Continue to lift your knees as high as you can.
5. Concentrate on using your abs instead of your leg muscles to pull your knees up.

BICYCLE CRUNCHES

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1. Lie flat on the floor. Keep your lower back pressed into the ground.
2. Place your hands on either side of your head, without locking the fingers or pulling your head up.
3. Lift and bend your legs to a 45-degree angle at the knees.
4. Straighten and bend your legs alternately, in a motion that mimics the pedalling of a bicycle.
5. While doing this, alternately touch your elbow to the opposite knee, keeping your core engaged.
6. Make sure not to strain your neck. Keep it relaxed.

PLANK

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1. Get into push-up position, with your palms on the floor and body forming a straight line from your shoulder to your ankles.
2. Bend your elbows and place them right below your shoulders; rest your weight on your forearms.
3. Engage your core by contracting your abdominal muscles and pulling your belly button into your spine.
4. Hold this position for as long as you can. Start off with 30 seconds and build up to 1 minute and so on from there.

LEG RAISES

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1. Stay flat with your back on the floor. Place your hands either below your butt for support or on either side of your head.
2. Engage your stomach muscles and lift your legs up (without bending them) until they form a 90-degree angle with the floor.
3. Slowly lower your legs back down, until they are just a few inches from the floor. Do not relax them back onto the floor.
4. Repeat.

PACK A PUNCH

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Boxing really works the abdominal muscles, since throwing a proper punch isn’t just a matter of swinging your arms, but about engaging your entire body – especially the core. If you find your shoulders slouching and belly protruding from sitting at a desk every day, a regular punching bag routine can also help with straightening your back, pushing up your chest and trimming your waist in record time. What’s more, the use of the lateral muscles in this movement will get rid of those pesky love handles, too!

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