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Hit the Spot

How to Target, Tone, and Slim Your Problem Areas


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About The Book

Do you want to look good in a bathing suit this year? Do you want to have a firm, flat stomach? Do you have "problem areas" that need to be toned and shaped up? Do you want to get rid of cellulite?
Hit the Spot! is a complete program to target and tone your problem areas, written in an upbeat, easy-to-follow style by America's #1 fitness authority, Denise Austin.
Denise Austin has spent her career helping people get energetic and fit, and now she zeroes in on the problem areas that cause the most concern for people. Hit the Spot! includes clear instructions and photos for exercises to firm and shape your:
Waist/ Hips and Thighs/ Upper Arms and Bust/ Buns
Denise offers positive thoughts and tips for success, including exercises you can do to lose inches from hips, thighs, waist, and other areas, as well as advice on clothes that make you look thinner instantly. She even includes a seven-day diet to improve the look of specific areas of your body.
Don't be afraid to wear that sexy suit on the beach this summer...Hit the Spot!


Chapter 1

Dear Denise,

After having three children, two caesarean, I thought I would always have my big tummy. Not anymore! I do your Hit the Spot abs quite often and it works! I lost two inches from my stomach the first month. I enjoy watching and listening to you because you seem like a real person. You are interested in helping others become better people. Thank you for being an inspiration to myself and my children! I'll continue to exercise and be a better person.

Judi -- Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Dear Denise,

I love working out with you and Hit the Spot abs! After having triplets I knew I was going to have a tough time getting back into shape but with the help of your ab workouts I got back into my bathing suit in no time fiat!

Martha -- Alexandria, Virginia

Dear Denise,

I am so happy I lost three inches of flab from my waist in just one month. Thank you Denise!

Vickie -- Cincinnati, Ohio

For every inch your waistline exceeds the size of your chest, you can deduct two years from your life expectancy. Keep those abs fit -- no other body part indicates a person's level of fitness as precisely as the centerpiece of the torso....the abs!

Let's say goodbye to your paunch once and for all! Number one on everyone's wish list is to have a toned, tight, fiat, sexy stomach! The good news is that the abdominal muscle is an area of the body that responds particularly well and quickly to exercise, especially done the right way! I spend only three to four minutes a day on my abdominals!

I start with Hit the Spot abs because your abdominals are the core -- the center of your body. These muscles are responsible for maintaining good posture and protect most of your vital organs. Plus, more fat around your middle -- closest to your heart -- increases the chance of heart disease. The risk of colon cancer is twice as high in men who don't exercise; having a large waist (more than 43 inches) doubles the risk. Strong abdominals are a must! Don't be discouraged if you only can do a couple of reps the first few times you try these exercises. Most people find abdominal work very difficult for a couple of reasons. First, and most commonly, their abdominal and lower back regions are in terrible shape. Second,the only movement that remotely mimics the ab crunch is getting out of bed. Most of us only get out of bed once a day, so our muscles aren't trained to repeat that motion several times in a row.


Here are a few very important things that you should know about doing abdominal exercises to make them as safe and effective as possible:

1. It is critical that you keep your lower back pressed firmly to the floor throughout the movement. Feel as though you are pressing your navel flat into your spine.

2. Never pull on your head during the movement. This can put unnecessary strain on your neck and upper back. Always rest your head in your hands and keep your chin up. I like to tell people to imagine an orange under their chins. If you look too far up it will fall out, look too far down and you'll squeeze the juice out of the orange.

3. I can't tell you how many times over the years people have confessed to me that they do tons of crunches but they still have tummies that stick out. Here's a little secret to guarantee that you get the greatest flattening effect from your crunches. When you are in the crunching phase of the exercise, it is imperative that you exhale! If you do your ab work with a diaphragm full of air, you'll build a hard tummy that actually sticks out. No kidding. Just making sure that you exhale as you come up with each rep means the difference between a hard, round tummy or a flat, sexy tummy.

Practice right now proper breathing during a crunch:

* Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your hands on your tummy.

* Inhale and slowly fill your diaphragm with air -- your hands should be lifting as if your tummy is inflating a balloon.

* Now, slowly raise up your head and shoulders (crunching) and exhale all the air, deflating, flattening your tummy, letting all the air out of that balloon, navel to spine hollow. That's how you breathe during each sit-up (crunch).

* Slower is better when doing sit-ups -- use the muscle, not momentum.

* Only come halfway up. There's no sense in coming all the way up, since once you go past a 45-degree angle you are no longer using your abs, but may be straining your back.

Do you have a bulging belly? Then it's crunch time. No more beer bellies. Trouble is, too many pounds at the waist can wreak havoc with the back.

Poor posture and weak abdominals also can make the belly bulge. Get a firm, fiat, sexy stomach. In 21 days you can sculpt your stomach muscles and learn everything you need to know to get the flattest, firmest stomach.


I have been described on TV talk shows as having the hardest stomach in America. A rock-hard tummy has been my trademark for years. I have had more people than I can count feel my tummy -- everyone from Bryant Gumbel to Jay Leno to Regis and Kathie Lee, Dustin Hoffman to Martina Navratilova to David Robinson to Colin Powell to CEOs all over the world, even the then-President of the United States, George Bush.

The following Hit the Spot ab exercises are the best ones for targeting all parts of the tummy region. We will be working the entire rectus abdominus -- the muscle that runs vertically from the chest bone (sternum) going all the way down to the pelvic bone. We will also zero in on the internal and external oblique muscles -- the sides and front of your waistline (no more middle-age spread and no more love handles).

And another important problem area for most of us is...below the belly button. The lower tummy is the hardest area to target. It is the least used of the three abdominal muscles in daily activity. If you've had a baby, abdominal surgery, or a C-section, it can be especially hard to re-educate those muscles. Having had two babies myself, I know it can be difficult, but I recovered the rock-hard stomach I'm famous for. I went from a 44-inch waistline (9 months pregnant) to a 24-inch waist in three months. I will teach you the key exercises I did to target the lower tummy.

Now you can choose to do all of these for a great variety or just do one or two. I always do one for the entire front (crunches), one for the obliques (oblique curls) and one for the lower tummy (reverse sit-up). It only takes me a few minutes a day to maintain my rock-hard tummy.

How Many: With each ab exercise begin with one set of 8-12 reps and gradually progress to two sets of 8-12 reps. The most important part of doing your ab exercises is proper form. Don't cheat!

When You'll See Results: Do three of these ab exercises at least four days a week and you will see a noticeable improvement in three weeks. Remember it's a three-prong attack: aerobic/cardio workouts, eating right, and ab work.

My Ab Secrets:

* It is extremely important to be aware of good posture all day long -- having good posture helps retrain those muscles in the stomach that can sag and bulge if we forget about them.

* Remember, focus on the quality of each crunch, not the quantity!

* Another key technique is visualization-pull in your tummy throughout the day. Make believe that someone is going to punch you in the stomach. Contract your abdominal muscles and hold them for ten seconds:That is equal to one sit-up! You can be sitting at your desk, or in your car or watching TV, while you are toning and tightening your abs without ever getting down on the floor.

* Don't forget to isolate those muscles properly, using extreme precision. Slower is always better in ab work!


This is one of the key exercises for working on the entire front of your tummy (rectus abdominus). If you're only going to do one abdominal exercise, do this one. It can be done by everyone regardless of their beginning level of fitness. The movement is easy to do and puts absolutely no strain on your lower back. Remember, when doing these as well as the other abdominal exercises, your form is very important, so read the instructions carefully.
* Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor (as shown).

* Press your lower back firmly into the floor. There should be no arch in your back at all.

* Rest your head in your hands but keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.

* Tighten and contract your abdominal and slowly lift your shoulders off the floor.


* Slowly lower your shoulders to the floor and repeat.

* Watch your form.

* Make sure your abs stay tight throughout the exercise.

* Don't do these quickly; keep slow and focused.

It's your choice...Once you've conquered the basic crunch, try my variations. Challenge yourself!


Level 2 Crunch
-- Intermediate

Same as the basic crunch, but hands are crossed in front.

* Use your abs to roll yourself up.

* Pause at the top of movement, then lower yourself back to the starting position.

Level 3 Crunch
-- Advanced

Same as the crunch, but arms are extended parallel to your body.

* Use your abs to reach your hands to your knees.

* Pulse up.

* Lower your shoulders, allowing your blades to lightly touch the floor.


Level 4 Crunch -- Advanced

Same as crunch, but arms are extended in an inverted "V" overhead.

* Allow head to rest on upper arms.

* Use abs to raise torso toward knees.

* In a controlled motion, lower torso to starting position.

The Rope Climb Crunch
-- Challenge

Same as the crunch, but legs are extended straight up (knees unlocked).

* Arms extended up.

* Use abs to lift torso.

* Next, use abs to further elevate torso as hands mimic a rope-climbing motion.

The Comfort Crunch (with chair)

Lie fiat on your back, thighs perpendicular to your body, knees together and legs extended, resting on a chair.

* Use abs to slowly lift forehead toward your knees.

* Keep constant tension on the abs throughout the entire range of motion.



This is by far the most effective for your lower abdominal region. Although it works the entire ab region, it really isolates the lower abs. Of course, the lower abdominals are not a separate muscle, but the rectus abdominus is a very long muscle, and when the pelvis is moved upward during the exercise, the lower portion does the work. This is the perfect solution for any woman who has had a baby, particularly via c-section.

* Lie on the floor, and place your hands palms down just beneath your buttocks. This allows you to keep your lower back flat on the floor during the exercise.

* Lift your legs off the floor, bend them slightly and cross your ankles.

* Exhale as you lift your bent knees toward your chest. Your knees should stay bent at the same angle throughout the exercise.

* Lower your legs slightly back down and repeat.

* Initiate this movement by first contracting the lower abs.

* This is a very short range of movement: your tailbone should lift off the floor only three to five inches.

* Do not swing your legs!

* Watch your form!


Lower Tummy Controller
-- Beginner

* Place a towel between your knees.

* Lift your hips up so pelvis is tilted and buttocks are off the floor a few inches.

* Relax, then repeat 8-12 reps.

* Place a towel between your knees and feel more lower abs and inner thighs working....It helps to "zero in" on the muscles closest to the pelvic bone. Challenge yourself by keeping your legs straight.

Lower Tummy Firmer
-- Advanced

* Straight legs, feet flexed and turned out, lift feet up as though you are placing footprints on the ceiling.


This exercise is almost identical to our first tummy-tightening crunch exercise. The only difference is that we are only going to raise one shoulder blade off the floor at a time. By doing so, you are able to focus on the internal and external obliques on the side of your tummy that support your laterally. As with all of our ab exercises, be sure that you try to contract your muscles with every rep. These are great waistline whittlers that will help get rid of those love handles we all hate.

* Lie on the floor and cross your left foot over your right knee.

* Press your back firmly into the floor. There should be no arch in your back at all.

* Place your left hand out to your side and your right hand behind your head.

* Exhale as you lift your left shoulder blade off the floor. You're not going to actually touch your elbow to your opposite knee, just move in that direction.
r* As soon as you have finished the reps on this side, repeat the same movement for the other side by switching the positions of your hands and your feet.


Waistline Trimmer

* Place towel between knees, squeezing together and slightly tilting legs to the side. Do 8-12 crunches, then repeat crunches on the other side of the waist by simply shifting your knees to the other side.


* Begin as shown in photo with left leg extended and right elbow bent. Bend and pull knee toward elbow and feel the "crunch." Switch sides.


This exercise is a little more difficult to do because it involves most of the abdominal region. By moving both the arms and the legs at the same time, you involve the upper and lower regions of your tummy. It's pretty easy to lose control of the form on this one, so really concentrate! Think belly button in, lower back pressed into floor, flat hollow stomach.

* Lie on the floor with your right leg straight and your left knee bent.

* Press your back firmly into the floor -- there should be no arch in it at all.

* Rest your head in your hands, but keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.

* Exhale as you pull your right knee in toward your chest. At the same time, raise your left shoulder to meet your right knee.

* Straighten out the right leg. As you do, draw the left leg to your chest, meeting it with your elbow.

* Continue to alternate side to side, simulating riding a bicycle.

* Watch your form.

* Keep the movement smooth and flowing, and try to keep your feet and shoulders from touching the floor.

If you find that the bicycles are too difficult, try these three easier ones. Just be sure to keep the lower back pressed into the floor and pull your abdomen in toward your spine.


Total Ab Sculptor
-- Beginner

* Bend knees, alternating "toe taps" to floor.

Total Ab Trimmer -- Intermediate

* Hands under hips and shoulders up.

* Alternate legs repeatedly.

Total Ab Slimmer
-- Advanced

* Relax your upper body and place hands under hips.

* Very important that you press lower back into floor.

* Alternate legs repeatedly.


This is an extremely challenging exercise -- very advanced -- from my gymnastics days. It is essential that your abs and back are strong to support the movement. I like to do this one to intensify and maximize my ab workout, and get those washboard abs! But I do only one set of 8-12 reps.

* Sit on the floor, placing your hands on the floor next to you. For support, lean back slightly, bending your elbows.

* Bend your knees and bring them in toward your chest, raising your feet off the floor.
* Extend your legs straight out in front of you, using your abs to keep them off the floor and to control the movement. It's important to keep your abs tight throughout the entire movement.
* Pull your legs back into your chest, then extend them again.







Ab Definer

* For obliques, and to really see great definition and a smaller waistline, slant your body to the side and tuck in and out slowly.


* Hold stretches 15-30 seconds.
* Abdominal cool down.
* Full-body stretch.

Copyright © 1997 Denise Austin

About The Author

Denise Austin is a fitness instructor, author, and columnist, and a former member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (January 2, 1997)
  • Length: 192 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780684802183

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