Core exercises will help firm and tone your abdominal muscles and should be part of your overall fitness program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. You should do muscle strengthening exercises, including ab exercises, at least two days each week. A fitness program that includes both core strengthening and aerobic exercise is the best way to lose weight and firm your abs.
Spot Reduction Myth
Your body burns fat during aerobic exercise. You can't burn fat in only one area, such as the belly, by doing repetitive exercises that focus on a single group of muscles. Fat in the abdominal area is lost the same way you lose weight over your whole body. You have to combine a healthy diet with aerobic and strength training workouts. Any exercise that increases your heart rate, your respiration and makes you sweat is an aerobic, fat-burning exercise. Ab exercises can help you burn fat all over your body while strengthening your core muscles for a slimmer, firmer waist.
Easy Pilates Hundreds
Pilates is a method of exercising that lengthens and strengthens muscles with stretches, controlled breathing and fat-blasting poses. The Pilates Hundreds works your abs and gets your heart pumping for a dual aerobic-ab strengthening workout, but it can be difficult for beginners. The standing Pilates Hundreds is easier and effective to help burn fat and strengthen your abs. Stand with your feet apart about hip-width and straighten your arms at your sides. Lift one leg straight out about 1 to 2 feet off the floor and pump your arms up and down quickly five times. Take a shallow breath in with each arm pump. Breathe out five times on the next five arm pumps. Continue breathing in with each five arm pumps and out with the next five arm pumps until you complete 50 arm pumps. Switch legs and do 50 more.
The crunch is a beginner-level fat-busting, muscle-building exercise that will burn fat and help you lose weight, but some beginners may find it difficult to do. An easier way to do a crunch and still experience the ab strengthening and weight loss is to do a reverse crunch. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Stretch your arms out from the shoulders and place your palms on the floor. Flatten your back against the floor and squeeze your abs. Lift your legs with your knees bent until your shins are parallel to the floor. Exhale and lift your hips off the floor. Bring your knees toward your chest but keep your knees bent at 90-degrees. Inhale and lower your legs back to the position where your shins are parallel to the floor. Do eight to 10 repetitions.
Resistance bands are an easy way to get fit and burn fat. Standing rotations using a resistance band target all of your abdominal muscles, including the hard-to-train obliques on the sides of your abdomen. Attach a resistance band to a door or a wall mount. Stand with your right side toward the door and grasp the handle with both hands. Bend your elbows to chest level. Plant your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Squeeze your abdominal muscles and then pull the resistance band across the front of your body toward the left. You can keep your elbows bent with your forearms parallel to the floor. Increase the intensity of the ab workout by pulling the resistance band with your arms straight.
- Mayo Clinic: Core Exercises: Why You Should Strengthen Your Core Muscles
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for Everyone: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- Mayo Clinic: Belly Fat in Women: Taking and Keeping It Off
- Fitness: Lose Your Ab Flab: Fat-Burning Power Pilates
- Fitness Blender: 10 Minute Pilates Routine - Advanced Pilates Abs Workout
- American Council on Exercise: Supine Reverse Crunches
- American Council on Exercise: Standing Cable Rotation
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.