When someone with a big gut approaches me, I know he's going to ask me for a good ab workout to get rid of his belly fat. See, I'm a fitness professional, and in the course of my work I encounter a great many misconceptions about fitness. The idea that ab-specific workouts will cause the loss of belly fat, in my estimation, has got to be one of the most widespread. Getting rid of excess belly fat is an issue for most people, but how to do it seems to be a mystery.
What's happening is this: people think that there are specific routines and exercises they can do that will specifically target excess belly fat. What people want is instant gratification: they want a miracle cure for a flabby belly – some set of exercises that will not only strengthen and condition their abs, but also miraculously melt off all the ugly belly fat covering up those abs!
Here's the bad news: there's no ab-specific workout or exercise that will eliminate excess belly fat. Ab-specific exercises, like any exercise that targets a specific muscle group, will only strengthen and tone the target muscles, not the fat blanketing them. Excess belly fat can only be achieved through an overall program of weight loss, because the body most readily burns fat for energy when two conditions are met – metabolism is increased and a specific hormonal response is triggered. The best way to achieve these conditions is a full-body strategic workout.
The most effective metabolic rate and hormonal response aren't going to be produced by a simple cardiovascular routine, though. The best results will be produced by a full-body program of high intensity resistance training and multi-joint exercises.
It's this full-body approach, combined with a nutrient-rich healthy diet, that will burn the excess belly fat and reveal the well-conditioned abs. The results you're looking for will be accomplished with this program, and it will produce them far more efficiently than a desperation-induced program of crunches and leg raises.
A disappointing truth, though, is that a majority of the population that wants to get rid of excess belly fat stubbornly clings to the fallacy that ab-specific exercises are the best way to get it done. You can imagine how frustrating it is for me to see this bad advice routinely given on the on-line fitness forums and fitness-oriented television programs. Part of the purpose of this article is to help people recognize and avoid such bad advice!
It probably seems strange that an abs expert like me would be recommending against ab exercises, but understand that what I'm recommending against is the reliance on ab-specific exercises as a prime cause of belly fat loss. The strength and tone of the abdominal muscles themselves is enhanced by a carefully-crafted routine of ab-specific exercises. What ab-specific exercises won't do, though, is cause the loss of the fat covering the abdominals.
Never underestimate the value of a well-rounded approach! A full body routine of resistance training, combined with a carefully crafted balanced, healthy diet are the most important factors. And remember – even though I'm recommending against ab-specific exercises, the abdominals get an awful lot of indirect work in many full-body routines because of the stabilization required.