You don’t have to live in Hollywood to look like you’re ready to step out of a summer blockbuster flick. (You don’t need to do tons of situps either.) But if you really want to look like the girl on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or get abs like that guy in Twilight, you do have to stick to a lean diet, practice strength workouts that challenge multiple muscle groups, and mix in a little cardio.
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We spoke with trainers who work with your favorite stars to get the scoop on how to score a swoon-worthy six-pack just in time for beach season.
Known for her butt-kicking roles as CIA agent Sydney Bristow and Elektra, Jennifer Garner is still looking good in the remake of Arthur.
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To keep Garner’s abs in top form, she does moves like the “painful push away,” says her trainer Valerie Waters. Start in pushup position with ValSlides under both hands, then slide both hands in front of you without breaking form until you start to shake. As soon as you feel a shake, walk your toes in. Repeat. Depending on your level of ability, you’ll be able to slide out anywhere from 2 to 5 inches.
“If you want your abs to be visible, you first have to reduce body fat, and specific abdominal exercises aren't very effective at doing that,” says Logan Hood, a trainer who has worked with Garrett Hedlund, Zac Efron, and Jason Statham. “You have to improve your diet before you worry about the types of exercises.”
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Swing your way into a solid core like Carrie Underwood did. The country star has been spotted taking Paul Katami’s kettlebell classes at Equinox’s West Hollywood location.
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“The great thing about kettlebells is that you get a full-body workout and all the moves incorporate your core in a major way,” says Katami. One of his favorite moves: the rotating squat. Hold a 5- to 10-pound kettlebell in your right hand, and lift it overhead. Keeping your right arm extended, lower into a squat to reach your left hand to the floor while looking up toward the kettlebell. Return to standing.
You can chisel camera-ready abs with cardio, says Kathy Kaehler, USANA spokesperson and celebrity trainer who has worked with Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Aniston. Something as simple as walking or hiking will help blast fat and slim down your middle.
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Amp up the intensity and feel the burn with step aerobics, recommends Kaehler. You’ll strengthen your lower abdominals every time you pull your knees up.
If you want cut abs like Fiddy, focus on working your legs and the area below the navel. “Your legs have some of largest muscle groups in the body, so attack them with multi-joint moves such as squats, cleans, lunges, and plyometrics,” says Jay Cardiello, the rapper’s live-in trainer of four years.
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Working your body’s large muscles will boost metabolism to help you burn fat all over—including on your belly. Cardiello uses box jumps, squat jumps, and burpees to help 50 Cent fire up fat burning and target his lower abs.
Instead of sweating through endless crunches, pick up dynamic exercises that work multiple muscle groups, recommends Valerie Waters, who has also trained Sasha Alexander (NCIS, He’s Just Not That Into You).
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Underneath her fashion-forward (aka kooky) outfits, Lady Gaga rocks an enviable six-pack that she shows off on occasion. To get a flat and toned stomach like hers, you need to mix a variety of core exercises into your routine.
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“First and foremost you have to train your abs on all three planes,” says Gaga’s trainer Harley Pasternak. “You have to train them forward and back with something like a crunch or double crunch. You have to train your abs laterally to hit the obliques with something like a dumbbell side bend. And you have to train your abs on a rotational plane—your transverse abs—and you can do that from a seated trunk twist.”
Get one good look at Ryan Reynolds’s buzzed-about six-pack and it’s no wonder he was named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2010. To gear up for his role in Green Lantern, he trained 6 days a week for 90 minutes a day while shooting on location in New Orleans.
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“Ryan would spend the first 20 to 30 minutes of every workout working his abs to warm up his core,” says trainer Bobby Strom, who recommends chiseling your middle with the medicine ball chop (5 sets, 15 to 20 reps). Strom’s twist: Keep both heels on the ground and don’t pivot your foot when raising the medicine ball overhead or lowering to the side—your obliques will have to work harder.
Bombshell Megan Fox knows: When you got it, flaunt it. Sculpt your own head-turning middle by kicking up the cardio component—even when you’re lifting weights.
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“When I resistance train my clients, I don’t use any rest periods. We’ll go from one exercise to the next, which helps keep your heart rate up and burn more fat,” says Pasternak, who also trains Fox.
Cue the screaming adolescent girls. After Taylor Launter’s washboard abs started snagging headlines, Robert Pattinson (Twilight, Water for Elephants) was motivated to beef up his own six-pack.
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To drop body fat, he followed Pasternak’s Five Factor Diet: Eat five times a day—three meals and two snacks—with five components each time. Every meal contains five “factors”—a low-fat protein, a healthy carbohydrate, fiber, healthy fat, and a sugar-free beverage.
Up the “wow” factor of your middle with mini contractions. “I’ve built some of Hollywood’s best midsections with something I like to call the ‘scare tactic,’ ” says Cardiello, who also has worked with Jennifer Lopez and Minka Kelly.
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When performing a squat, contract your core muscles as if you’re getting ready to absorb a punch. Why? Your abs are partially made up of fast-twitch muscle fibers, explains Cardiello, and isometric contractions specifically help train this type of muscle.