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Well, the holidays are over. And if you’re like most Americans, you exited them 10 to 15 pounds heavier than when you entered. (Thanks, Mom’s apple pie.) But it’s all good—try these hard-and-fast tips and you’ll be back to your svelte self very soon.

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Nearly half of all men who work out alone quit their programs within a year. But two-thirds of men who exercise with a woman stick it out.

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1. Work Below the Naval
People think to trim their waistline, they need to do lots of sit-ups. Not true. The best way to lose your gut is to work below the waist. That’s where your body’s three largest muscle groups—glutes, hamstrings, and quads—are, and hitting them spikes your testosterone, boosts muscle-building and raises your metabolism. The higher your metabolism gets, the smaller you’ll get. Good exercises for those muscle groups include compound lifts such as squats, lunges and deadlifts as well as jumping jacks, plyometrics and running.

2. Ditch the Abs Class
Most people don’t realize this, but your abdominal muscles are fast-twitch muscle fibers, meaning they don’t use oxygen, and doing a thousand crunches does basically nothing. Instead, the best way to flatten your gut is to work your invisible abdominal muscles. Here’s what you do: while standing, suck your belly in toward your spine and hold it for 10 seconds while breathing normally. Repeat five times. Another great exercise is planks. (Both regular and side.) Hold for 20 seconds, repeat five times.

3. Train with Your Woman
Ask your girlfriend or wife to hit the gym with you. Why? Studies show that nearly half of all men who work out alone quit their programs within a year. But two-thirds of men who exercise with their lady friend stick it out. And both genders benefit. Both men and women work out 12 to 15 percent harder when training with a loved one. Think about it: when your girlfriend is watching, you don’t exactly want to look lazy.

We don’t endorse crunches, yet we totally want to work out with her. What a conundrum!

4. Take Vitamin C
According to a recent study, people who consume 500 mg of Vitamin C per day burn 39 percent more fat during exercise than those who consume less than 100 mg per day. That’s because low levels of Vitamin C impede your body’s ability to use fat as energy. Fun fact: kiwis and peppers pack about twice as much Vitamin C as oranges. And if you’re the one person on the planet who doesn’t enjoy a good kiwi, you can also take a vitamin supplement.

5. Reduce Your Calories
Exercising is great, but the truth is, 80 percent of weight control comes from nutrition. To drop pounds, you need to cut calories. Best way to figure out how many calories you really need: multiply your weight times 11. That number should be your total daily caloric intake. Keep track, aim for that number, and you’ll keep your gut in check. (Note: that’s the formula for the general public. It’s not for pro athletes or bodybuilders. Theirs might be higher or lower depending on their sport. So if you’re training for the UFC, yeah, you’ll want more.)

6. Eat with Your Left Hand
We’ll talk more about limiting your calorie intake in the coming weeks, but here’s a quick and effective way to reduce them. Switch from your dominant hand to your non-dominant hand when you eat. It will slow your rolls, so to speak. See, it only takes about 10 or 20 minutes for your brainto realize that your stomach is full. But if you’re eating with your dominant hand, by the time you feel full, you might’ve finished two plates. With this new method, you’re more likely to push back from the table after one. Go on, try it.

 

Jay Cardiello is Made Man’s fitness and nutrition expert. As a top certified strength and conditioning coach, personal trainer and sports nutritionist, Cardiello has worked with Hollywood A-Listers, Fortune 500 CEOs and NFL stars. His accelerated body transformation program, JCore, is available here, and his new book, Cardio Core 4×4, is available here. Got a question for Jay? Leave a note in the comment section, and he’ll do his best to address it in a future column.