While it would be great to blast away belly fat with stomach-specific exercises, there is no way to spot reduce just one body part. If your extra weight tends to pile up in your midsection, this is the area that will thin out as you lose weight. To get the lean belly you desire, turn your focus to losing body fat from all over while incorporating strenth-training to build the right muscles.
Having a gut or extra belly fat is more than just an eyesore, it also puts you at risk for serious health issues. According to MayoClinic.com, women with a waistline greater than 35 inches have an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. As you work to lose weight and reduce the size of your tummy, remember that that healthy weight loss is slow and steady, and you should only lose 1 to 2 pounds a week.
Steady Cardio Exercise
During a steady cardio workout, work at a moderate pace for a long time frame, around 30 to 60 minutes. At first you might need to rest for a day before doing another workout, but as you gain stamina, make it a daily goal to get at least 30 minutes of cardio daily for maximum fat loss. While you're working at lower intensities, your body uses your stored body fat as an energy source, resulting in healthy weight loss. Choose a variety of exercises to alternate between, so you don't become bored with your workouts. Focus on activities such as running, swimming, dancing, hiking, the elliptical or tennis, which engage your stomach for more muscle toning in your abs.
Interval training is like cardio exercise on steroids -- you alternate very fast and intense periods of exercise with slower intervals for a higher caloric burn in a shorter time frame. Because interval training is so stressful on the body, it should only be done for 10 to 25 minutes, two or three times a week. A common workout would include alternating sprints with jogging or walking, although you can choose any cardio exercise that can be done at various speeds. During the fast intervals you should be working as hard and fast as you can for 20 to 90 seconds, while the slow intervals are used for quick recovery and can last 30 to 120 seconds. It's important to keep moving during the slow intervals and avoid cooling down all the way.
Ab exercises such as crunches and sit-ups isolate the ab muscles beneath your belly fat. Strong ab muscles act like a girdle, pulling in your stomach for a smaller waistline. Increasing the amount of muscle you have also makes it easier for your body to burn calories faster when you are at rest, working out or doing daily chores and activities. Movements with bending or crunching involved, like reverse crunches, flutter kicks and the bicycle crunch, target the muscles along the front of your stomach. Anytime you twist or bend sideways, like in a torso rotation, you are training the oblique muscles on the sides of your tummy. Start with one or two days dedicated to ab exercises and work up to every other day.
Ashley Farley has been a certified personal trainer since 2008. She is also a writer specializing in healthy living, fitness and nutrition topics. Farley has an Associate of Science in mental health services from the Community College of the Air Force and is pursuing her B.A. in English at Wright State University.