Timolina/Shutterstock Abs are made in the kitchen—almost every trainer Reader’s Digest spoke with said a smart diet is key to success. One easy way to improve your diet is to follow Revenge Body celebrity trainer Lacey Stone‘s go-to formula: “I tell my clients to drink lots of water and eat four meals a day. Each meal should contain a palm-sized serving of a lean protein like fish, 1/4 cup of complex carbs like quinoa or brown rice, four tablespoons of healthy fats, and as many non-starchy vegetables as they want.”
If sticking to an exact formula seems overwhelming Bryant says to start by cutting meal portions by 20 to 25 percent. (These nine genius portion control tricks for quick weight loss can help.) Once you’ve become used to eating less, then try transiting to Stone’s approach to a balanced diet.
Make your cardio more challenging
Dean Drobot/Shutterstock If you’re already regularly doing cardio, that’s great; that means you’re ahead of the game when it comes to improving your cardiovascular health. But when it comes to fat loss, not any cardio workout will do. Trainers recommend HIIT—high-intensity interval training—a type of cardiovascular exercise that alternates between intense bursts of activity followed by a period of active recovery like walking or light jogging. “Studies suggest that this style of training can reduce waist circumference and abdominal fat, including visceral fat, which is stored around the organs and associated with health complications,” says Rick Richey, NASM-CPT, CES, owner of the Independent Training Spot in New York City.
Never done HIIT before? Richey says beginners should start with a 1:4 work to rest ratio. “Go all out for 20 seconds, and then go into an active recovery for 80 seconds. Do this seven times for a super-effective 12-minute workout.”
As for frequency, Stone suggests doing HIIT workouts three or four times a week either on a spin bike or a treadmill. If biking or running is tough on your joints, Rochester-based trainer Ajia Cherry, ACE, CPT says you can do HIIT on an elliptical. “This allows my clients to reap the benefits without the impact,” she says. (Hate doing cardio? Don’t miss these five energizing workout playlists to make exercising less miserable.)
Make your life less convenient
aroonroj.kul/Shutterstock Former personal trainer and boutique fitness studio owner Carla Birnberg has a different approach to exercise—one that doesn’t involve sprinting on a treadmill or bike, and she says she’s never been fitter—or had flatter abs. “At 48 years old, my midsection is far more ripped than it was decades ago and my cardio of choice is walking. This is something I do every day. Even if my schedule is super busy, I make time to get at least 10,000 steps by simply making my life less convenient. I’ll take the stairs, park far away from entrances, and pace during conference calls. Every little bit adds up.” (For days when it’s not feasible to cram in the recommended 10,000 daily steps, this shorter routine has got you covered.)