Getting abs in shape for bathing-suit season

Fitness Q & A

Beach Fitness

May 23, 2004|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

For the first time in my life, I have a little paunch. How do I get my abs back in shape -- in a hurry -- for swimsuit season?

Whipping your abs into shape in a matter of weeks is a real challenge. Are you up for it? If so, you will have to commit to a three-part regimen: trim with cardio, tone with strength training and cut fat from your diet.

Still on board?

The cardio you choose should be highly aerobic, like running. Activities that incorporate the abdominals, like Pilates, swimming or tennis, are good off-day supplements.

To isolate and tone the obliques, transverse abdominis and rectus abdominis muscles, do traditional crunches, "the bicycle," and inclined sit-ups (on a sloped bench). Scale back on calories, particularly calories from saturated fat.

To avoid injury, be sensible about your training. Do not increase in distance or time by more than 10 percent weekly. And remember, your diet will help as much as anything.

Follow these steps and the six pack you bring to the beach this summer won't be in your cooler!

I like to swim in the ocean and go for long jogs at the beach, but I get tired quickly. I'm in good shape. Why am I so exhausted after exercising at the beach, and what can I do about it?

It's likely that dehydration is the culprit.

Swimming in salt water will dehydrate you much faster than swimming in a lap pool. As for jogging, if you are used to running on asphalt, braving the sand can wear you down quickly.

Many vacationers also indulge in alcohol and salty foods at the beach. These factors, combined with the summertime heat, are enough to drain anyone.

To combat dehydration, down two to three glasses of water a few hours before exercising and another glass about 15-20 minutes before you begin.

If the water at your beach pad or hotel doesn't taste as good as the water at home, make a bottled water run as soon as you pull into town. Being hydrated will perk you up for your workout, and afterward you'll have enough energy to build sand castles, play putt-putt and barbecue.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail

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