Fat in the abdominal region falls comes in two different types. The first is subcutaneous, or the fat that lies on top of the muscle, the fat you can feel. The second is visceral fat, or the layers of fat deposits that are intertwined around your abdominal organs.
The first type of fat masks the look of your rock hard abs while the second releases hormones that increase your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some think your risk for dementia.
Working your abdominal muscles will not actually work off either types of fat to reveal your abs. You need to combine exercises for your core, cardiovascular workouts and a solid eating plan to both build muscle and melt the fat to reveal those muscles.
In fact, in a research study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the authors found that six weeks of abdominal exercises was not sufficient to reduce abdominal subcutaneous fat but that the group who performed those exercises did significantly improve their muscular endurance during the study.(1)
Muscle and Belly Fat
This means that although the exercises didn’t remove the subcutaneous fat over the muscles, the group that performed the exercises did develop muscle under the layer of fat tissue.
So, when you do the exercises you need to develop the muscle, it’s also important to pay attention to the dietary changes necessary to reduce the overall amount of fat in your body that will also reduce your belly fat.
For instance, pay attention to the type of fat included in your diet because monounsaturated fat will reduce belly fat while saturated fats will increase it.
Reduce your stress levels and practice stress reduction techniques to reduce your cortisol levels which encourage belly fat production. Drink plenty of water and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep to also reduce your cortisol levels.
Best Core Exercises
The best core exercises are planks that will work both your abdominals and your back. Lie on the floor in the push up position, on your elbows with your hands in front, forearms pushed to the floor. Work up to holding this position for 90 seconds.
The side plank, done on both sides, will work both your back and core as you work to stabilize your balance and your oblique muscles to give you sleek abs.
Lie on your side, elbow under the shoulder and forearm pressed to the floor. Raise your hips with your feet on top of each other. Work to hold this position for 45 seconds on both sides.
The superman will also work both back and ab muscles. Lie on your stomach will your hands out in front. Focus on squeezing your glutes and upper back to get your hands and feet off the ground. Work up to holding for 5 seconds. Release and repeat.
(1) Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: The Effect of Abdominal Exercise on Abdominal Fat
(2) Health and Fitness Experts: Five Core Exercises to Lose Stomach Fat
(3) Health: 24 Fat Burning Ab exercises No Crunches!
Top Photo by Port of San Diego