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Want Washboard Abs?

Then scrub those late-night ads and focus on the basics

(HealthDay) -- So you want those washboard abs, eh? Well, it's going to be a little more complicated than just plunking down some money for the latest star of those late-night ads.

Millions of dollars are spent each year on those contraptions, according to an article from The Record, of Bergen County, N.J. There is a better way, however. The solution involves losing extra fat through a sensible diet, cardiovascular exercise and strength training for all the major muscle groups, the article says.

The alternative, cranking out thousands of sit-ups each day, takes away from time that could be spent on more efficient exercise. It also could lead to muscle imbalances that could lead to injury. If your abs are much stronger than your lower back, for example, you could injure your back.

Instead, put your effort into a well-rounded program that focuses on the hamstrings, thighs, lower back, chest, shoulders, upper back, and arms. As for the cardio exercise, start small. As your body becomes more efficient, increase the duration and intensity of the exercise. And, there is a place for specific abdominal exercises, but your goal should not be high repetitions. Instead, gradually increase repetitions with higher levels of resistance.

A proper diet is the cornerstone of any sensible fitness plan. You want to take the weight off gradually and with good habits that will sustain you for a lifetime. For some quick fitness tips and recipe ideas, you can read this article from ivillage.com. You don't have time for a complete workout? This article from Men's Fitness says all you need is 10 minutes.

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