What’s the best solution to banishing the belly? It’s more complicated than you might think, and you can’t do it quickly.
Taking care of your abdominal muscles (abs) and beyond
Here’s how you can alter your workout routine and lifestyle to tone and trim your midsection, and keep your body healthy.
Step 1: Understand your body’s relationship with fat
Different types of fat get stored in different parts of the body. Visceral fat, located below your muscles, cushions your internal organs. Subcutaneous fat is right below your skin, and it’s the stuff that you can pinch. It’s easier to lose – but it’s also less of a health risk than excess visceral fat.
People store fat differently depending on things like their genes and hormones, and as a result, most people won’t ever have a completely flat abdomen – but that’s okay! If you’re someone who puts weight on above their waist, take a moment to embrace the fact that, due to factors completely beyond your control, it may be harder to let that inner six-pack show, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to reduce your visceral fat and improve your health.
Step 2: Know the difference between a strong core and a six-pack
A six-pack is the sign of a strong core, sure. But having a strong core doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily have a visible six-pack. Subcutaneous abdominal fat covers the muscles that many of us desperately wish were on display, and having a defined midsection requires losing a certain percentage of body fat so that these muscles are visible. To put it simply, you can have a strong core without having a visible six-pack. The only way to get defined abs is to have less fat on your midsection.
Step 3: For less visceral fat, combine exercise with diet
Keeping all of this in mind, the best ab routine is one that strengthens your midsection and works alongside a healthy lifestyle. This means you’ll want to do various abdominal exercises to strengthen your core, while eating healthily and getting the recommended amount of exercise every week. You can lose visceral fat by changing up your diet and lifestyle.
- Exercise: most experts agree that adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or 75 minutes of intense activity each week, so make sure that you’re getting this – but show your core some love, too. For 3-5 days per week, do 10-15 reps of a variety of core exercises, like abdominal crunches, planks or modified planks, and side planks. Working variety in your ab routine lets you work more core muscles than you could by simply doing crunches or sit-ups.
- Diet: in addition to getting regular exercise, experts suggest that you change up your diet for healthier abs. Harvard Medical School emphasizes replacing refined carbohydrates with complex carbs, and getting more polyunsaturated fats, instead of less unhealthy saturated and trans fats. This could help reduce the amount of visceral fat in your body.