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Targeted exercises alone aren't going to flatten your belly.
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Whether you consider your lower or middle stomach to be your problem area, the muscle you're referring to is one and the same -- the rectus abdominis. If this muscle is covered by excessive fat, you can do as many abdominal exercises as you want, but the fat won't budge and will continue to hide the muscles underneath. Exercises that work your entire body can reduce your total body fat and eventually result in a flatter stomach.
Effective Strength-Training Exercises
Instead of solely doing abdominal-strengthening exercises, such as hanging knee raises, crunches and lying leg circles and leg scissors, take on a full-body strength-training workout two days a week. Compound exercises are best, because they engage multiple muscles and joints for optimal caloric burn and muscle maintenance. In addition to working your major muscle groups, exercises such as lunges, dead lifts, pushups, chin-ups and squats also require you to engage abs and other core muscles to maintain perfect form.
Calorie-Burning Cardiovascular Exercises
Experts recommend doing half an hour to one hour of moderate cardio on most days of the week to lose weight. By incorporating high-intensity interval training into your routine two to three days per week, you can optimize your results. According to research findings published in a 2008 article in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, this type of training effectively reduces belly fat. Interval training requires that you incorporate short, vigorous bursts of activity into your cardio routine. For instance, jog for two minutes, and then sprint for one minute, and continue alternating between the intensities.
Targeted Strengthening Exercises
Just because abdominal exercises don't spot reduce belly fat, it doesn't mean you shouldn't do them. They strengthen and tone your muscles, so that when your cardio routine starts to reduce the flab, your flatter tummy will have greater muscle definition. Crunches on a stability ball, knee raises in a captain's chair, vertical leg crunches and bicycle crunches are some of the best ab exercises, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Things to Consider
You can exercise all you want, but if your diet isn't healthful, you might be sabotaging your efforts. Instead of resorting to fad diets that slow your metabolism, practice portion control and clean up your diet. Limit sugar and saturated and trans fats, and emphasize fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and reduced-fat dairy. Consult your doctor before starting a new diet and exercise routine, especially if you suffer from health conditions or injuries, or have been inactive.