You’ve seen them at the health club. Those dedicated people glued to a gym mat doing a gazillion abdominal crunches. Their goal? To blast away belly fat. Sadly, they may not get the six-pack they’re looking for. Hours of abdominal crunches won’t give you sexy abs if your abdominal muscles are cloaked in a layer of fat. So what’s the key to getting rid of belly fat and building a six-pack?
To blast away belly fat, combine crunches with fat-burning exercise, and a clean diet. Cut back on fast food and processed carbs, and eat more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Enjoy your fruits and veggies with lean protein sources like fish, chicken breasts and lean turkey.
Why are processed carbs so bad if you’re trying to get rid of belly fat? Processed carbs increase insulin levels, a hormone that deposits fat on your abdomen and everywhere else. Processed carbs also contribute to insulin resistance. Most people with insulin resistance carry excess fat in the deeper layers of their abdomen. This type of visceral abdominal fat increases the risk of heart disease and other conditions.
To get a flat belly, say no to soft drinks, and sip green tea instead. It’ll give your metabolism a boost, and it has other health benefits as well. Of course, changing your diet is only part of the picture.
To get rid of belly fat, you need to pump up the calorie burn. That doesn’t mean running five miles a day or spending hours on the elliptical machine. In fact, too much cardio and no strength training can work against you. Research shows that a combination of aerobic and strength training burns more fat than aerobic exercise alone.
Weight training is important, but how you weight train matters too. You’ll burn more fat doing compound strength training movements that challenge more than one muscle group at a time. Training the larger, lower body muscles also burns more calories.
To maximize fat burn and melt away the layer of flab covering your abdominals, add push-ups, dead-lifts and lunges with weights to your routine. But don’t be tempted to grab those 3 pound dumbbells. They’re okay when you’re first starting out. To maximize the fat burn, challenge your muscles with heavier weights. Lifting heavy weights stimulates greater release of fat-burning hormones such as growth hormone that’ll help you get chiseled fast.
Don’t forget to vary your abdominal routine. Focus on exercises that strengthen the entire core rather than doing only crunches. Crunches mainly work the rectus abdominis muscle that runs up and down the front of your abdomen. It’s also important to strengthen the transversus abdominis muscle that runs horizontally and the oblique muscles on the sides of the abdomen. Don’t forget to work your back muscles for balance. Once you burn off the abdominal fat that’s hiding your abdominals, you want them to be firm and toned.
The bottom line? You can’t blast away belly fat by doing abdominal crunches, no matter how hard you do them. This is because spot reducing is a myth. The key to great abs is to burn more fat while strengthening and toning your entire core. But be patient. You won’t build a six-pack overnight.