Stop wasting time doing just situps and crunches, because they won't eliminate the excess fat around your midsection. Sure, you might strengthen your abdominal muscles, but the fat layer covering them up will never allow you to see results. To whittle away fat, eat a sensible diet, and create a full-body exercise routine that includes cardio and strength training. Once your body fat reduces, the fat around your middle will also diminish, and you'll realize your hard work is paying off.
To lose fat, work up a sweat with cardiovascular exercise. In addition to strengthening your heart, cardio uses fat for energy and burns calories so you lose weight. For optimal benefits, schedule 300 minutes of moderate or intense cardio into your week. Add variety to your exercises to prevent boredom -- go ballroom dancing, play a game of doubles tennis, take a brisk walk or enjoy water aerobics. If you want to exercise less and still get similar results, increase the intensity -- run, play a game of singles tennis or take an aerobics class.
It is essential to increase your muscle tissue if you want to reduce your midriff. Unlike fat, muscle tissue raises your resting metabolic rate, using calories when it repairs and restores itself. Two strength-training sessions per week is sufficient. Take on a full-body approach rather than just focusing on your stomach. Work your arms, shoulders, chest, legs and back. Do exercises such as squats, pushups, triceps dips, dumbbell curls and lunges. Start with one set of eight to 12 repetitions, and as you get stronger, gradually add two more sets. Always use enough weight so the last repetition of each set is difficult to complete.
Abdominal exercises should be part of your strength-training routine. Once the fat reduces, these exercises ensure your stomach is tight and toned. Focus on strengthening the rectus abdominis at the front of your waistline, your obliques at the sides of your waistline and your transverse abdominis, which acts like a corset around your waist. The American Council on Exercise recommends including bicycle crunches, vertical leg crunches and abdominal exercises on a stability ball in your exercise routine as these exercises most effectively stimulate your abdominals.
Before taking on a new exercise routine, consult a doctor, especially if you have health concerns or injuries. Gradually build up your exercise routine, and if you're new to exercise, hire a trainer to learn proper form and to prevent injuries. Adjust your diet, because if you eat unhealthy, your midriff won't reduce regardless of how much exercise you do. Focus on eating plant-based foods, lean protein, healthy fats and low-fat dairy products.
- North Dakota State University: How Many Sit-Ups Does It Take to Reduce Belly Fat? Answer: Zero!
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source: Strength and Flexibility Training
- American Council On Exercise: New Study Puts the Crunch On Ineffective Ab Exercises
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Women: Taking - and Keeping - It Off
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.