If you guessed that the best exercises for a flabby stomach are sit-ups and crunches, sadly you’re mistaken. Sit-ups won’t burn fat off your belly anymore than thigh exercises will slim thunder thighs, according to the American Council on Exercise. The best exercise you can do to get rid of a flabby stomach is cardio, along with adopting a healthy diet. You can target your abdomen with ab exercises, but that will only tone the muscles covered by excess body fat. To get rid of flab, daily exercise sessions of moderate to high intensity will have you saying goodbye to the fat on your stomach, and the thunder thighs.
Cardio Methods to Lose the Stomach
Walking, swimming, aerobics, spinning, sports, group exercise classes—any physical activity you do consistently works for combating belly fat. Pick an activity you enjoy and once you start, keep moving. Frequent stops cause your heart rate to slow and reduce your calorie expenditure. Cardio machines work well because you will not get stopped by traffic, weather, or other obstacles that occur when you try to exercise outdoors.
Importance of Exercise Variety
While you should pick exercises you like, you still need variety. Your body adapts to even the best exercises within three to four weeks, according to the “NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training” by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. This means you have to add time, distance, speed or resistance to an activity to keep burning the same calories. Instead of adding an extra mile to your run every week to get the same amount of reward, switch your cardio method monthly. Walk one month, swim the next, and bike the following month. Or switch up what you do throughout the week. For example, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday try walking. On Tuesday and Thursday, swim or take a cardio kickboxing class instead.
The Right Intensity for Fat Burning
Moderate to high intensity cardio is not only useful for losing your gut, it also increases cardiovascular fitness and endurance. You’ll also see a higher total calorie expenditure than when doing light cardio. The total calorie expenditure of your workouts is what matters most for burning fat, according to Bodybuilding4You.com. You can utilize what is called the “talk test” to measure your intensity. The talk test is a measure of exercise intensity equal in value to heart rate monitoring, according to an article by Phil Block, M.S. and Len Kraviz, Ph.D. entitled “The Talk Test.'” If you can recite the “Pledge of Allegiance,” but still feel that you’re working out then you’re exercising at a moderate intensity. If you can only get to “the United States of America” before needing to pause, you’re working at a high intensity.
The Trade Off
Although moderate intensity cardio may seem to be the best choice because it’s easier, there is a trade off: you have to exercise more to stay in shape. For general health benefits, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which is double the recommended amount of time for high intensity exercise. So if your primary goal is to lose the tummy, longer cardio sessions at a moderate level may be best, but in the long run, building up to high intensity exercise even a couple of days a week might be better for your health.