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Photo: Instagram/@adaripp

Breathing is important for plenty of reasons: It relieves stress, improves your energy levels, and—oh, yeah—keeps you alive. One perk you might not be aware of, though, is its ability to help you get killer abs.

Figure skater Adam Rippon, one of the first openly gay U.S. Winter Olympians, has worked hard to get his physique. He eats a high-protein diet, complete with plenty of fruits and veggies, and sticks to a six-days-a-week workout schedule with his trainer Steve Zim. His go-to sweat sesh? It involves a series of moves using a medicine ball, Russian twists, weights, and anything that’s going to melt his abs, the athlete told The New York Times. He added that having strong abs “keeps you stable and strong in the air. If you’re tired, you’re saved by your core.”

When he’s doing his grueling exercises, Rippon makes sure to focus on one important aspect: proper breathing, which his trainer said is a key part of the workout. “Breathing is everything when it comes to abs. If you want ripped abs, you need to allow them to contract,” Zim said.

“Breathing is everything when it comes to abs. If you want ripped abs, you need to allow them to contract.” —Steve Zim, Adam Rippon’s trainer

So how do you go about incorporating breathing into your own exercises to get gold-medal-worthy abs? It’s not as complicated as you may think—you simply need to devote some extra thought as you go about your routine. “Before every move, breathe out,” Zim said. “Pull your belly button into the spine and continue breathing out as you’re contracting, so your abdominal wall is sinking into you. You’re essentially making room for your abs to contract fully by pushing air out.”

Thanks to the change in breathing, your abs will soon be popping more than ever. Who knew something so simple could make such a big difference?

You can do an ab workout anywhere with this two-minute Pilates move. Or, if you’re looking for something more hard core, try Shay Mitchell’s go-to exercise.

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