When looking for the machine that is going to reduce your belly the fastest, look not to weight-training or ab-strengthening machines -- instead, turn to cardio. The notion of "spot reducing" your midsection is as old-news as last year's fashions, but if you still haven't heard it, here's the skinny: you can't reduce your waist by doing endless reps of sit-ups, planks or other belly-blasters. The real way to cut fat around your waist is to place your focus on the machines that burn the most calories.
Big Calorie Burners
Now that you know the focus of your efforts should be on cardio, you can choose between the machines your gym has to offer. One way to decide is to pick exercise machines that promise the biggest calorie burn. Among the machines at the gym that provide the biggest calorie burn are the rowing machine or "erg," the treadmill -- for running or jogging -- and the stair treadmill. On average, a 160-pound person can expect to burn roughly 438 calories per hour on the erg, 606 calories per hour jogging at 5 mph, and 657 calories per hour on the stair treadmill.
As You Like It
There's another secret formula to burning the most calories that will lead to a reduction in your waist size: choosing machines that will keep you going. If you absolutely hate using the stair treadmill, you're more likely to trudge along at a slow pace and stop early, which is not going to help you meet your goals very fast. When that's the case, you might choose to use a stationary bicycle, go for a walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical trainer instead. If you like those exercises more, you're more likely to stick with it. Thus, the "best" exercise machine for you is the one that you keep using.
Make It Intense
Burning calories requires a dedicated amount of time and a certain level of intensity. Whatever exercise you choose, do it for at least 30 minutes, and ideally, closer to an hour. Also, look for ways to increase the intensity of the machine. On the treadmill, that might include speeding up your pace or adding incline to the machine. On an exercise bike, that might include turning the tension knob to add resistance. For cutting belly fat, you have another option that may help you: high-intensity interval training. Instead of doing all of your cardio at the same pace, try this two days a week. Warm up by doing 10 minutes of "regular" cardio, and then speed up to about 90 percent of your maximum speed for one minute. Then slow down to about 50 percent of your max for another minute. Cycle between the two speeds a total of eight times and then do a cool-down. According to the American Council on Exercise, HIIT is a good way to burn additional subcutaneous abdominal fat.
A Word On Abs Exercises
As you begin to reduce your waist size, you may want to work on exercises that will help you develop your abdominal muscles and give you more of that six-pack look. While some of the "best" exercises for your abs don't require any equipment, a study published by the American Council on Exercise revealed that one piece of equipment may help you recruit the muscles of your rectus abdominis, or six-pack, as well as the obliques, better than others. The Captain's Chair looks like two vertical poles with hand holds on its horizontal posts and foot rests near the floor. If you're looking for a way to work the abs while you're at the gym, do two sets of 10 to 20 leg raises using the equipment, two days a week. The other exercises that recruit the abs muscles the best, according to the study: the bicycle crunch, crunches on an exercise ball and the reverse crunch, in which you raise your legs in the air and then "crunch" toward the raised legs.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.