Is there a more troublesome spot on the body than the tummy area? It’s difficult to get rid of stubborn belly fat, but the right workout strategy can certainly help. The key is to combine resistance exercises with aerobic workouts to strengthen your abs and burn away the fat. Don’t believe the myth that hundreds of crunches per day can melt away belly fat; it’s just not true. Instead, stick to the tried and true methods used by fitness pros everywhere.
Despite what many think, the abdominal muscles are not separated into upper, middle and lower abs. The front part of your abs, called the rectus abdominis, are a group of thin muscle fibers running from your pubic area up to the middle part of your ribs. Though the front part of your abs is one continuous muscle, you can target the upper abs with certain exercises; however, a complete ab workout is the best strategy.
Because the abdominal muscle is thin and exercised without very much resistance compared to other muscles, it’s typically OK to exercise the abs on consecutive days instead of resting a day between workouts. Aim for three to five ab workouts per week, each consisting of two or three different ab exercises. Vary the exercises from week to week to keep your muscles challenged. To work the upper abs more than the lower abdominal region, use exercises that place your hips in a stable position with only the trunk of your body moving. A few effective upper-ab exercises include crunches, vertical leg crunch and exercise ball crunches.
The best way to flatten your tummy is with a consistent cardio regimen. Aerobic exercises burn more calories than resistance training, and crunches alone don’t burn fat from your midsection. You can choose any of your favorite cardio exercises to include in your workout, such as walking briskly, cycling, swimming, aerobics, jogging or skating. Exercising 30 to 60 minutes at least four or five days per week is ideal. An hour of rollerblading burns nearly 550 calories for a 160-pound person (source 2). If you were to do this workout everyday, you’d burn over 3,500 calories per week, which is equivalent to 1 pound of body fat.
Keys to Success
The first key, and probably the toughest, is simply sticking to the plan of daily cardio and ab workouts. It’s a difficult regimen, but you’ll start seeing positive results within three to four weeks if you stick with it. When exercising your abs, focus on using slow, controlled movements. Don’t try to complete as many repetitions as possible; this can lead to poor technique. Instead, aim for 8 to 12 slow reps per set, focusing on really squeezing the abdominal muscles and achieving perfect form. Finally, make sure to have fun with your workouts. If it’s fun, you’re far more likely to stick with it over the long term.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images