It's a cruel and horrible fact; fat begins to build around your midsection as you age. The frustrating part is this is the hardest fat to lose on your body, but it is possible. Building your exercise routine around an abdomen workout will not cause your waistline to magically disappear. The key to losing your belly fat and reducing your overall weight lies in a well-balanced diet combined with a workout that concentrates on burning calories, building muscle and toning your abs.
Control Your Calories
One known fact is that you lose weight by burning more calories than you eat. Now that doesn't mean stop eating and work out as hard as possible. It means you need to eat smaller portions of foods high in nutrients and low in refined sugars and fats. Eating these types of foods in five or six well-balanced daily meals keeps your stomach feeling full and makes you less likely to snack between meals. Lastly, you must eat 500 calories less than your body needs to maintain its weight to lose 1 pound of fat per week. But be careful -- eating less can lower your metabolism and cause weight gain.
Get Your Heart Pumping
Losing fat requires burning calories and this means sweating. Cardiovascular and aerobic exercises do a good job of raising your heart rate, increasing your body temperature and making you sweat. Don't over do it; exercise within your limits and gradually increase how hard you work out. Measuring your heart rate regularly during your exercise routine and keeping it below 80 percent of its maximum will keep you safe. Subtracting your age from 220 is a common way to determine your maximum heart rate.
Build Up Muscle
Muscle needs fuel. This causes your metabolism to increase and makes your body more efficient at burning calories. Building muscle requires resistance. That resistance can come from your body weight, resistance bands or free weights. Don't rush in and grab large weights if you're just starting out. The goal is to build muscle and sculpt your body, not to look like an Olympic bodybuilder.
Tone Those Abs
With your belly fat gone, you'll want a sculpted set of abs to show off in your bikini. This requires exercises that target each of your abdominal muscles, and this means crunches. Yes, crunches hurt, but they are effective at toning your midsection. The types of crunches you do will have a dramatic effect on the belly you expose when the fat disappears. Get more bang for your buck by doing bicycle crunches, captain’s chair raises and V crunches. Investing in an exercise ball will allow you to add a horde of additional abdominal exercises.
Lynda Schwartz is a fitness professional who began writing in 2004. She has contributed to "Women's Day" and "Good Housekeeping" magazines, as well as covered fitness and well-being for online publications. Schwartz holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and health promotion.