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For years, you've curled, crunched, and twisted, but for some reason your pooch hasn't shrunk. Want to know why? To reveal that sexy, sculpted middle, you have to target more than the small section of abs that crunches hit, say Alwyn Cosgrove and Lou Schuler in their book The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. You need to work your entire core by encouraging it to do the job it's meant to do: stabilize your spine.
Cosgrove and Schuler's groundbreaking program is based on the concept that a healthy, sculpted body is the result of your muscles working the way they were intended. Because your core's main function is to keep you upright, each unique exercise in the program falls into one of the three stabilization categories below.
Progressively incorporate the moves on The No Crunch Zone Workout into your regular workout, and in a matter of weeks that stubborn pooch will vanish.
Exercises in this category stabilize your spine and pelvis by holding your body in a static position for a set amount of time. We know what you're thinking: Not that boring old plank! But this much-maligned move develops your deepest core muscles, which cinch in your waist like a corset, and it just may be the key to that coveted flat belly.
Your first goal is to master holding the basic plank with solid form for 90 seconds (45 seconds for side planks). Then you will be ready to move on to more advanced versions—and that's where things get interesting. Minor tweaks, such as holding one of your arms or legs above the floor, become challenging variations that shift your center of gravity and work your deep stabilizing muscles in new ways. Plus, there's nothing boring about holding a plank with your forearms on a stability ball—your core muscles have to adjust to keep your lower back steady and prevent you from face-planting on the gym floor.