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It takes more than just situps to flatten your tummy.
If you're one of the many people who resort to abdominal-strengthening exercises, such as situps, hoping to achieve that often-desired flat stomach, it's time for a wake-up call. Spot-reducing fat by working the muscle underneath it is impossible. You're better off eating a healthy diet and integrating a multifaceted exercise routine that includes cardio and strength training. And yes, this can include situps. This will reduce total body fat, including fat from your tummy.
Situps to Strengthen Abdominals
Although situps don't spot-reduce fat, they do strengthen your abdominal muscles. Your abs are part of your core, and a strong core can relieve low back pain and improve your athletic performance, posture, balance and stability. Situps are done while lying face up with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Your arms can be folded over your chest, extended along your body or crossed behind your head. Although it's common to crunch up to a vertically seated position, Len Kravitz, an author and exercise scientist at the University of New Mexico, recommends coming up no more than 30 to 45 degrees to keep the work in the core rather than the hip flexors.
Strength Training for Muscle Tissue
To flatten your tummy, make situps part of a full-body strength-training routine. Strength training optimizes muscle stimulation, which is essential, because muscle tissue burns more calories at rest than fat tissue. Muscle tissue is also denser than fat, so you lose inches. Target your major muscle groups with exercises such as bench presses, lunges, squats, bent-over rows, biceps curls and overhead presses. Also, consider doing other abdominal exercises, such as bicycle crunches, captain's chair knee raises, reverse crunches and stability ball crunches, which, according to a 2001 American Council on Exercise article, are some of the most effective abdominal exercises.
Cardio to Burn Calories
Experts generally recommend doing 150 to 300 minutes of moderate cardio a week. This burns calories and can contribute to weight loss, which can flatten your tummy. Incorporating two 15-minute, high-intensity interval sessions into your cardio routine can optimize results. In 2001 the American Council on Exercise stated that this type of exercise effectively reduces belly fat. During your interval training, alternate between one minute of vigorous cardio and two minutes of recovery at a moderate pace. You can do intervals while jogging, riding a bike or exercising on an elliptical, rowing or stair-climbing machine.
Diet and Safety Considerations
Eating an unhealthy diet can make you gain back the calories you burned through exercising. To avoid this, practice portion control and choose healthy, low-calorie snacks, such as fruits and veggies, over weight-loss sabotaging, high-calorie snacks. Also, limit your sugar intake, because sugar is likely to expand your midsection. Before starting a workout routine and changing your diet, consult a doctor to make sure that your chosen lifestyle changes are suitable and safe for your physical condition.