Ab Exercises: Are They A Waste Of Your Time?

By: Curtis Penner

If you've been doing ab exercises in hope of shedding those unwanted pounds around the middle, I'm afraid I have some bad news...

You've been lied to.

That's right. NO tummy exercise on its own can get rid of your belly fat.

Despite what you see on T.V. or read in the popular fitness magazines, you can not...you will not lose stomach fat by doing stomach exercises.

You see, these companies prey on your fears and insecurities. They use fit, attractive people to make you believe that if you use their product or follow the routine found in their magazine, you will somehow look like a highly paid fitness model.

In the end, only your wallet looks slimmer.

Think about this for a moment. How does your body know to burn fat from just your stomach? And how funny would you look if, after doing a few hundred crunches a day, you had a "ripped" set of abs but the rest of you remained fat?

When you gain fat weight, your body stores it according to your genetics. Some people store fat around the middle, while others store it in the hip, legs and butt.

Ab exercises - or any strength training exercises for that matter - have one purpose and one purpose only...to strengthen your muscles. Yes, exercise helps burn calories but nutrition plays the biggest role in your weight loss efforts.

When you lose fat, you lose it all over, with your trouble spots being the last to disappear. Unfair? Maybe. Frustrating? You bet. So how do you rid yourself of that pesky pooch?

Combining a balanced nutrition plan with regular strength training and cardiovascular exercise provides the quickest and most reliable results.

Some important guidelines for weight loss success include...

-Eat 5-6 small meals a day, never going more than 4 hours without eating something. Doing so helps keep blood sugar levels in check which in turn allows your body to burn fat more efficiently. And in the long run helps minimize your risk of developing type II diabetes.

-Eat adequate amounts of protein with each meal and snack. Unlike carbs and fat, your body can not store protein for future use. So you must provide it with a steady supply throughout the day for proper maintenance and creation of tissue.

-Eat mainly high quality, fiber-filled veggies and fruit as your carbohydrate choices. Studies show a strong link between obesity and the amount of refined carbohydrates a person eats. Limiting the amount of refined carbs you eat may be the single most effective thing you can do.

-Include healthy fat at each meal and snack. It will help keep hunger pains and cravings to a minimum. Be sure to include Omega 3 fats in your diet. Your body needs them to survive and thrive but does not produce them on its own.

-Cut out all drinks containing sugar. That includes pop, sweetened ice tea and all fruit juice. Yes, juice. You may be surprised to know that 8 oz. of orange juice has the same number of calories as 8 oz. of regular soft drink.

-Perform 2-3 strength training workouts each week that work the entire body. For many busy people, full-body workouts promote consistency and ensure that all the major muscle groups get equal amounts of attention.

-Finally, work towards being able to complete three to five cardiovascular workouts per week. And be sure to work at the right intensity. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being all out effort, strive to work in the 7-9 range for most of your workout. When I talk to people who exercise regularly but are not making any progress, it's often because they don't work hard enough.

Some people ask me if you have to workout to lose weight. My reply is "No". But it helps build strong muscles and bones. Something we all should be concerned with, especially women. Exercise also helps improve flexibility - another important component of overall health and fitness.

Others would rather just exercise and not change the way they eat. Unfortunately, this approach rarely works. When you can eat a 250 calorie chocolate bar in less than five minutes but need to walk for more than half an hour at four miles per hour to burn those calories off, you begin to see the problem with using just exercise to lose weight. The fact of the matter is, you can't outrun your mouth.

In the weight loss world, knowledge really is power. The next time you hear or read of a product claiming to give you a flat, sexy stomach, remember that no machine...no ab exercises will do it on its own. You must combine a balanced nutrition plan with an effective exercise program.

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