Five Ways to Flatten Your Belly

Time to start “gut-busting.”

Bathing suit season is just around the corner and getting ready for the beach takes more than just doing a handful of crunches everyday from now until June, said celebrity trainer Kacy Duke.

“You have to be present,” said Duke, who has trained Denzel Washington, Julianne Moore and model Iman. “Let your body know what you are going to do. I have a conversation with my body all the time. I’ll tell it, I’m going to feed you well and treat you well because I need quick results for a photo shoot. And then I watch the magic happen.”

Duke, the author of “The Show It Love Workout,” said the body should be treated as “your best friend.” And, to do so, means eating right, exercising and staying focused.

“This is your life,” she said. “You don’t want to just go through the motions.”

Here are five tips for firming that belly:

1.) Eat Clean. There’s no magic bullet. To get that tummy toned, you have to eat right. “You can’t just eat anything you want when you’re going for that summer tummy,” said Duke. “Eat a little leaner, a little greener.”

Eat lots of salads with lots of color, said Duke. That means adding things like red peppers and tomatoes in addition to lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens. Add a can of tuna in olive oil to your salad, to get some protein and heart healthy fats into your diet, Duke said.

2.) Drink Water. It may sound cliché, but water really is the key to good health, Duke said. “Water is extremely important in life and especially in fitness,” she said. “You need to flush out toxins and flush out excess water so you can see the beautiful lines you have, now that you’ve been shaping your stomach. The more water you drink, the less bloated you’ll be. And you need water. Don’t think that coffee is the only thing you need to keep you going.”

3.) Do Cardio. Sculpting exercises are important, but to stay lean and trim you need to do 45 minutes of cardio at least three times a week. “Running is the best to do, if you’re trying to lean out,” Duke said. “That’s not to say that power walking or elliptical exercises aren’t good. But if you can’t run three times a week, try walking five times a week. And you also have to give whatever you’re doing your full attention. That means not doing your elliptical while you’re reading a book.”

4.) Try Circuit Training. Mixing cardio with strength-training exercises can help quickly tone muscles, Duke said. “Try running in place for 20 to 30 seconds, then drop down and do 10 to 15 pushups, and then get back up and do some forward and back lunges,” she said. “It’s good to get your heart rate up, while you’re sculpting your body.”

5.) Target Your Abs. While it’s true that doing too many crunches may build up some unwanted bulk in your midsection, it is important to do exercises daily that will sculpt your abs, Duke said.

“Anything done in excess can be bad, but the important thing to remember is that the abdominal isn’t just one muscle,” she said. “There’s different muscles involved in the abdominal area, which stretches to the lower back. So if you’re weak in your stomach, you’re weak in your lower back. It’s like one big girdle stretching around your midsection.”

Duke suggests doing crunches, leg lifts and targeting your obliques, or side abdominal muscles, with side bends, twists and side-specific crunches.