(WomensFitnessFocus.com) Who doesn’t want flat abs? People desperate to lose weight will willingly starve themselves, take expensive supplements or do the latest fad diet that promises to give them that flawless figure in 30 days. Thankfully, belly fat is metabolically active and easier to lose. However, if proper nutrition is not observed and the resort is made to low calorie diets, weight loss may not happen within the desired time frame. Hunger and calorie deprivation will eventually kick in and dieters confronted with that favorite food they have been avoiding will have the tendency to binge at the first opportunity. The likelihood of gaining more weight than they originally lost is not far-fetched.
According to Christine Rosenbloom, a nutrition professor at Georgia State University, eating a calorie-controlled diet and 60 minutes of daily moderate exercise activity will result to weight loss and can even help with the desired weight maintenance. In fact, according to Professor Michael Jensen of the Mayo Clinic, intense aerobic exercise will result to being leaner around the abdomen.
It is important to remember that keeping the body’s metabolism up and running so that the body continuously burns calories prevents it from going into the fat-storing mode that causes unnecessary weight gain.
Why exercise is necessary
Most people involved in weight loss believe that it’s all about the calories. If you burn calories more than you take in, you lose weight. If you take in more calories than you can burn, the body gains fat. While this piece of logic may make sense, it is only partly true. What burns calories nonstop is actually the lean muscle mass underneath body fat that allows more intake of calories without weight gain.
The body actually adapts to the changes it undergoes. Losing weight without exercising increases the risk of losing lean body mass, slowing the metabolism and putting the body into fat-storing mode. People who have lost body fat and muscle mass may notice that they don’t have the muscle mass they once had. Worse yet, once they overeat even a little bit, they start filling up on body fat once again.
Building up muscle mass
An important thing to remember when undergoing a weight loss program is to understand what needs to be done. Realistic and achievable goals can help in building the confidence needed to make the necessary leap for the achievement of a desired weight.
Researchers at the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University took a look at some popular abdominal exercises and ranked them. Results of the study revealed that exercises that require constant abdominal stabilization and body rotation resulted in the most muscle activity in the abdomen.
Below are the top five belly exercises as ranked by the study:
1. The Bicycle Exercise – best for targeting the six pack muscles and the obliques. To do this exercise, get into a supine position with hands at the back of your head. Bring knees to the chest while lifting shoulders off the floor. Slowly bring your right elbow towards your left knee as you straighten your right leg. Switch sides and continue in a pedaling motion. Do 1 to 3 sets with 12 to 16 repetitions.
2. The Captain’s Chair Leg Raise – This exercise requires a captain’s chair, a rack with padded arms allowing for the legs to hang free that is commonly found in gyms or health clubs. To do this exercise, stand on the chair and grip hand holds. Press back against the pad then raise knees to the chest to contract the abs then lower them back down. Do 1 to 3 sets with 12 to 16 repetitions.
3. Exercise Ball Crunch – For this exercise, an exercise ball is necessary. In this routine, the abdomen does more exerting but will still need the entire body to stabilize it throughout the routine. To do this exercise, lie on the ball with your lower back fully supported. Place hands behind the head. To lift the torso off the ball, contract the abs to pull the bottom of the rib cage towards the hips. Keep ball stable as you curl up, then lower back down to stretch the abs. Do 1 to 3 sets with 12 to 16 repetitions.
4. Vertical Leg Crunch – Performing this exercise is similar to doing a leg crunch except that the legs are straight up, forcing the abs to work and adding intensity to the routine. To do this, lie on the floor with the legs straight up, knees crossed, and place the hands beneath the head for support. Contract abs lifting the shoulders off the floor and keep legs in a fixed position to crunch. Do 1 to 3 sets with 12 to 16 repetitions.
5. Long Arm Crunch – This is a variant of the traditional floor crunch where the arms are held straight behind you, adding a lever to the move and making for a challenging exercise. To do this, lie on the floor or a mat then extend arms straight behind, keeping them clasped and next to the ears. Slowly contract abs and lift shoulders off the floor carefully to keep the arms straight. Do 1 to 3 sets with 12 to 16 repetitions.
The best strategy to weight loss is to observe a healthy diet coupled with exercise of at least an hour a day. Although there is no sure fire way to deal with belly fat, there are a number of activities from which to choose and enjoy. As long as you’re having fun, you can lose weight without realizing it. It is important to look for an exercise you enjoy. If the suggested exercises above do not suit your taste, taking a hike, swimming or biking are just as effective in burning fat and toning muscles.
Sources for this article include:
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