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A simple guide to getting that six-pack

So you’ve successfully consumed your weight’s worth of Easter eggs and now your thoughts may be drifting to your post-exam plans. When summer comes, everyone wants to swan or ‘peacock’ around the pool and feel comfortable in their own skin. Well, according to Charlie Smith (pictured), if you want abs to envy, now is the time to get started.

Here are his three simple yet effective exercises that will help you to achieve those washboard abs, if done five days a week. Ladies, don’t fear, you don’t have the testosterone required to bulk up like the hulk, so these exercises are suitable for both men and women. The sets/reps will vary depending on ability: Charlie recommends starting at three sets of  5-10 repetitions a day, which should take no longer than five minutes. In order to keep the moves challenging, increase the reps gradually as your strength improves, while maintaining proper form and engaging the abs (pulling your belly button back, towards your spine) throughout.

Crunches

They may be an old trick, but if you do them properly, you can get some great results.

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1. Lie on your back and bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head, or by your temples.

2. Tilt your chin slightly, leaving a few inches of space between your chin and your chest.

3. Curl up and forward so that your head, neck, and shoulder blades lift off the floor, being careful not to strain your neck.

4. Hold for a moment at the top of the movement, then lower slowly back down. This is one rep.

 

Leg raises

This move targets your lower abs – make sure to keep your abs pulled in tight throughout the movement.

1. Lie on your back with your legs straight in front of you.

2. Place your hands behind your head for stability.

3. Slowly raise your legs off the floor and hold for two seconds at the top of the movement.

4. In a slow and controlled movement, lower your legs back down until your heel touches the floor then repeat.

 

Plank

This may not feel like it’s targeting your abs at first, but trust me, after a while, it burns (in a good way).

1. Start on your hands and knees, then lift your knees off the floor, so you are balanced on your hands and toes, with legs extended.

2. Make sure your back is flat (don’t lift your bum in the air, as this will stop your abs from engaging) and hold for as long as comfortable.

3. Once you get better at this move, you can try holding it for longer, or modifying it to make it more challenging. Try resting on your forearms instead of your hands, or alternate between the two, making sure to keep your abs squeezed tight. Finally, try lifting one leg off the floor at a time, or moving your knees forward to your chest, then placing them back on the floor.

It’s not only about the exercise that you do – diet and stress are key factors that determine how much abdominal fat might be covering your six pack. As everyone should know by now, killer abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. So don’t think you can out train that cheeky late night snack or that whole chicken from Nandos. Focus on eating a balanced and healthy diet that provides enough protein, carbohydrates and calories to build and protect your muscle, without growing a beer belly at the same time!

About Sarah Lienard

health.spark@reading.ac.uk'
Sarah Lienard is a Third Year English Literature student at Reading, and sub-editor of the Health and Food sections of Spark*.

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