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Why You Can’t Crunch your Way to Six-Pack Abs

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you want a flat, toned stomach, six-pack, washboard, or whatever you call your midsection, there is no magic wand to get it; what is needed is core exercise. Our bodies are made in such a way that you cannot just concentrate on spot reduction for toning and reducing fat because it comes as part of the entire fitness physique.

Core exercise includes a variety of aerobic sports activities

Belly fat generally has two parts: subcutaneous fat (the type that forms “love handles”); and visceral fat that surrounds the stomach and organs. Visceral fat may be out of sight, but it is the most dangerous type of belly fat, because it is often associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Core exercise is needed to burn fat deposits to get core muscles around the trunk and pelvis in top shape.

Core exercise involves three things:

Phase 1 - Aerobic Exercise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 300 minutes of moderately intense exercise or 150 minutes of vigorous exercise every week to burn calories. That’s 2½ to 5 hours.  High calorie aerobic exercise includes running, cycling, interval training and swimming to burn around 600 calories per hour. Low intensity exercise such as brisk walking only burns 300-400 calories per hour.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is best for burning calories, reducing fat and maintaining muscle mass. By using different types of gym cardio equipment and performing at alternating high and medium intensity for 30 seconds each, it can provide excellent core exercise to tone the midriff and reduce fat deposits.

Phase 2 - Strength Training

Core exercise should include at least two sessions of strength training per week. Core work and resistance exercises should include repeat squats, chin-ups and pushups to work multiple muscle groups along with crunches, reverse crunches, leg lifts and planks. As you burn fat and build muscle, strength training and core exercise will begin to produce a flat, toned six-pack stomach.

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Phase 3 - Healthy Diet

If you need to lose fat around your waist and stomach you need to consume less calories than you burn. Scientists recommend a low-calorie diet based on nutritional food such as lean meat, low-fat dairy products, fruit and vegetables. Avoid sugar and include only small portions of complex carbs such as whole-wheat bread and brown rice. Aim to lose a steady two pounds a week. If weight loss reaches a plateau, cut the calories even more.

By combining core exercise with fat-burning aerobic exercise and a healthy diet, you will soon have a flat, toned stomach and a six-pack to make you proud.

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