Steal the routine that a-listers use to trim and tone in record time. it’s so seriously effective, this will be the cheat sheet you keep!
We have very good news for you: “It’s 100 percent possible to see a difference in your abs in one week,” swears Astrid Swan, a celebrity fitness pro in Los Angeles. You just have to put in the work. But not the hours-on-theelliptical or endless-crunches kind of work. “You shouldn’t have to exercise for more than 30 minutes at a time,” she says. “A half hour is plenty, as long as those minutes are intense and you use them smartly.” And Astrid would know: She privately trains many famous clients, including cover stars of Shape magazine in the US who need last-minute ab toning to prep for big events or, say, bikini photo shoots. Now, she’s sharing her magic formula for flatter abs in seven days with all of us.
Kick up your cardio
“High-intensity interval training is your abs’ best friend,” Astrid says. It has been lab tested as a major belly-fat fighter: Women who did three HIIT workouts a week lost significantly more subcutaneous belly fat (the stuff you can see and pinch, thus what you care about in time crunch) than those who did only steady-state cardio, according to a study from the University of New South Wales in Australia. The researchers say that’s probably because more fat is used for fuel during HIIT than steady-state. You can do cardio intervals with any kind of movement that uses multiple big-muscle groups and gets your heart rate way up within seconds, Astrid says. For instance: Sprint, then do plyometrics (explosive full-body jumping moves like squat jumps, burpees and speed-skater lunges), then jump rope. Whatever you choose, push as hard as you can, recover, then go as hard as you can again. The rules: Get breathless. Let your muscles burn. Empty the tank by your last interval. Astrid suggests doing equal workto- recovery ratios. Go all out for 30 seconds or one minute, then catch your breath for the same amount of time. Repeat that for 20 to 25 minutes. “You’ll skyrocket your heart rate, then bring it down enough to let yourself reset so you can go a little harder on the next set,” she explains. “It’s the fastest way to burn the most calories in the least amount of time.” To ensure that you leave nothing behind, cut your recovery time in half for the last set or two, she says.
Hoist heavier weights
If you don’t lift weights, you won’t see your abs, Astrid says. To get hard abs fast, focus on full-body moves using hefty loads: weighted squats, dead lifts, push-ups and ball slams. “For one, ab-tightening is baked into every rep as you brace your core to work through the move,” she says. “And the bigger the move, the bigger the calorie burn.” A lot bigger. Research published in the journal ACSM: Health and Fitness found that compound exercises can elevate your burn for up to 72 hours post-workout, and have a particularly potent effect on subcutaneous fat because they spike hormones that help ferry ab flab into your furnace. “Compound exercises allow you to lift heavier because more muscles and joints chip in to perform the moves,” Astrid says. “So on top of burning more, you’ll get more defined.” Lifting heavy means using a weight that has you max out at around 12 reps. Try to raise your weight for every set you do, aiming for three. “Do a set of squats holding a 12kg weight with both hands at your chest, then use a 14kg one for the next set and a 16kg weight for the last,” Astrid says. This allows you to burn and firm up more with every set.
Target your deep abs
At least once a week, round out your routine with a few abs-only moves . “Choose planks and pilates exercises, because they work the deepest abs for a better compression effect,” Astrid says. (Get the best flatteners at www.bit.ly/muffin-top-workout.)
Your week of quickie workouts
MONDAY: Do 5 heavy compound strengtheners. (Need ideas? Head to www.shape.com.sg.) Do 3 sets of 12 reps, with 30 seconds of rest between moves.
TUESDAY: Warm up for 5 minutes, then do HIIT. Go all-out for 30 seconds, then rest for 15 or 30 seconds. Continue alter nating for 20 to 25 minutes.
WEDNESDAY: Do 4 plyo moves (speed skaters, burpees, jump-switch lunges and squat jacks will burn the most calories), then 4 moves that isolate the abs. Do 3 sets of 12 reps, with 15 seconds of rest between each move.
THURSDAY: Do 6 heavy compound strengtheners. Do 3 sets of 12 reps, with 15 seconds of rest between moves.
FRIDAY: Warm up for 5 minutes, then do HIIT. Go all-out for 30 seconds, then rest for 15 or 30 seconds. Continue alternating for 20 to 25 minutes.
SATURDAY: Warm up for 5 minutes, then do HIIT. Go all-out for 30 seconds, then rest for 15 or 30 seconds between sets for 20 to 25 minutes.
SUNDAY: Do 4 heavier compound strengtheners. Do 3 sets of 12 reps, with 45 seconds of rest between moves.