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Cardio workouts are more effective than resistance training for a flatter stomach.
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When it comes to achieving a flat stomach, it's all about cutting down body fat. To trim the extra inches around your waistline, you should burn fat through cardiovascular exercise. Abdominal exercises, like crunches, help develop muscle but won't flatten your stomach. Whether you want to get rid of the post-pregnancy weight or just get in better shape, short and intense cardio exercise is the best way to achieve your fat-loss goal.
Dispelling the Myth
It is not possible to spot train your stomach with vigorous resistance exercise. An overall reduction in body fat is what can help you trim down your stomach and Columbia Health notes that genetics also play a role in how flat you can get your stomach. For instance, the shape of your organs in the stomach area and body fat distribution affects the natural shape of your stomach. Exercising can help you reach your full potential, but gaining abs like a fitness model is not realistic for some people. (ref1)
Turn Up the Heat
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) doesn't take much time to complete and it is more effective than moderately intense exercise. According to a review of research published in a 2011 issue of the вЂњJournal of Obesity,вЂќ HIIT can result in a moderate reduction of abdominal fat in women of normal weight and those who are slightly overweight.(ref2) The research also suggests that HIIT is a more effective exercise regime in overweight women with type 2 diabetes. Perform a HIIT session by warming up for five minutes on a stationary bike then begin to alternate between one minute of high intensity exercises and two minutes of moderate-level exercises for 22 minutes. A high intensity level would be similar to sprinting, while a moderate intensity is similar to jogging.
Developing strong abdominal muscles can give your stomach a flatter and chiseled appearance, so it is good to complement fat-burning cardiovascular activity with abdominal-specific training. To determine the most effective ab workout, the American Council on Exercise commissioned a study that found crunches on an exercise ball to be the most effective overall abdominal exercise.(ref5) Effective ab workouts that target the obliques - on the sides of your stomach - and your rectus abdominis -- the six-pack muscles -- include the captain's chair and bicycle maneuver. Aim to perform 10 to 25 repetitions in one to three sets. Any more than 25 repetitions indicates that you're doing the exercise incorrectly or too fast, you want to work to the point of fatigue. (Ref4)
Resistance Exercise for Long Term Success
To maintain and quicken your body fat loss, you should increase your basal metabolic rate, which is the rate at which you burn calories at rest. Performing resistance exercises two to three times a week will help you get a flat stomach because it increases your calorie expenditure rate and a leaner physique can improve your efficiency in performing cardio exercises. Perform powerful compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses and the bench press. Aim for 10 to 25 repetitions in one to three sets, depending on your fitness level.