One fitness target is universally understood by all guys: abs.
A ripped core signals good health, a fit body, and sex appeal. But when it comes to sculpting one, we make excuses: genetics, work, a regular Sunday menu of football, wings and beer.
More: 2 Plank Variations to Build a Strong Core
Here's a truth you'll appreciate: One of the best things you can do for your body is spend more time in bed. Harvard researchers who studied more than 68,000 people found that those who slept less than five hours a night were 5.4 pounds heavier and more likely to become obese than those who slept more than seven hours.
One Reason: Just a single night of inadequate sleep may increase activity in your brain's reward center, particularly regarding food.
To Point: A University of Chicago study found that "short sleepers" took in an average of 220 more calories a day than those who logged adequate z's.
Quick Fix: Unplug the bedroom TV and try for eight hours of sleep a night—and never settle for less than seven. Here's a scary fact for some added inspiration: If you are a habitual short sleeper, your chance of an early death rises by as much as 12 percent, Italian researchers say.
More: 3 Reasons You Should Sleep More
Lift More Often
Your treadmill's calorie tracker might make cardio seem like a fat-loss genie, but don't be fooled. The more miles you log, the more efficient at running you become and the fewer calories you may burn. Plus, running long distances can take a physical toll that can dampen your enthusiasm. All that pain and boredom causes many people to burn out and give up.
Quick Fix: Weave The Best Abs Workout Ever into your fitness plan. Just three days of resistance training a week can offer the metabolic boost you need to slash fat and finally fit into slimmer, more flattering clothes.
More: 9 Muscle-Building Exercises
Lift Heavier Weights
Now that you've made it to the gym (or dusted off your weights at home), reach for the larger dumbbells. Lifting heavy weights not only burns more calories during your workout but may also increase your sleeping metabolism by about 8 percent, say researchers at Washington University school of medicine in St. Louis. Yep: You'll burn more calories as you lie on your back and dream of Scarlett Johansson. That 8 percent might not sound like much, but it can add up to about 5 pounds a year.
Push your limits. As you feel yourself becoming stronger and more comfortable during a workout, don't be afraid to go bigger. Challenging your body in new ways hits your muscles at different angles, packing on size. For all-new exercises from fitness experts, subscribe to our Workout Center
More: 5 Strength-Training Tips to Build Muscle