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Best Abdominal Exercises to Lose Those Fatty Love Handles
There are a lot of misconceptions floating around out there regarding abdominal exercises and how to go about crafting that chiseled six-pack we all crave. Let's first discuss some of these belly fat misconceptions before taking a closer look at how to really transform your abdominal region from a spare tire to a lean machine.
Ab Exercise Misconceptions
Misconception #1: Ab workouts will give you a flat stomach. It's sad to think about all of the energy and dollars people waste chasing the six-pack of abs they see on TV by buying trendy fitness products and creating an exercise regimen that consists almost exclusively of worthless ab workouts. Ab exercises may strengthen your abdominal muscles, but they do not transform the fat around your midsection into muscle. This is why the advice that "you just need to do a few sit-ups" to lose your love handles is certifiable horse-crap. Sorry to say, but you need to do a lot more than just sit-ups. Part of the reason ab workout products and infomercials are so popular is they promise a relatively easy path to a beach-worthy midsection. Because let's be honest, sit-ups aren't really that hard. What you're not told by the infomercials is that the paid fitness models using the product being sold probably never touched the thing again after shooting that commercial. They trained their bodies in other ways (we'll get to that in a moment) and were brought in to model some fitness product that creates the illusion that their good looks came from something you too can acquire for 4 easy payments of $29.95.
Misconception #2: Sit-ups or crunches are the only ab exercise you need. Sorry to say it again, but this is horse-crap. The ab muscles are much bigger than people realize and include the obliques which are the muscles that run along the sides of your body below the rib cage. Standard crunches and sit-ups do not target the obliques. They work only the middle abs. To really rid yourself of those love handles, you need strong and tight obliques as well.
Misconception #3: Using your hands to lift your neck up off the ground constitutes a crunch. Sadly, plenty of people do little more than risk an injury to their neck when doing abdominal crunches. If you insist on doing them (even though they're a waste of time compared to other things you could be doing to reduce the fat around your mid-section as you'll soon see), this video from eHow goes over the proper way to do a stomach crunch and how to avoid jerking on your spine while not really working your abs:
How to Lose the Spare Tire and Create a Chiseled Mid-Section
Are you one of those people who have tried doing tons of sit ups every night yet never look any different? That's because you are not doing anything to address the layer of fat covering up your abs. Before ever doing a single sit-up, here are three ways that are more effective for reducing your love handles and strengthening your core:
1. Start doing aerobic exercises. To rid yourself of body fat, you need to burn it off. This is why ab exercises are so ineffective for achieving results: they don't burn many calories. Start doing low- to mid-intensity aerobic training one hour a day for 4-5 days per week. Brisk walking is a great place to start. Rowing or swimming are also good alternatives. The key is to elevate your heart rate and keep it elevated for close to an hour. In the first 30 minutes of an exercise, you are mostly burning off the carbohydrates you recently ate. The fat burning stage kicks in once your body uses up all of the sugars immediately available to it. It has no choice but to start eating away at your fat stores. This is why you want to sustain a nice exercise intensity for an hour. Don't overdo it and leave yourself wiped out after 15 minutes. That misses the whole point. A simple brisk walk will suffice in keeping that heart pumping for a full hour.
2. Proper nutrition is the key to six-pack abs. Six-pack abs start in the kitchen. If you want a flat stomach, you have to get rid of the body fat. To do that, you must watch what you eat. All of the sit-ups in the world will get you nowhere if you're reaching for a piece of pizza after finishing. Focus on eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, lean meat and drinking plenty of water. Avoid processed foods, carbonated sugary drinks, and alcohol. It's a long, slow process. Stay patient. This is the only way to a real body transformation.
3. Build real core strength. Ab exercises still do not make our list of how to have a chiseled mid-section (yes, they're that worthless). If you really want strong abs, focus on exercises that build core strength. Learning to do squats will do much more for your mid-section than hundreds of daily crunches and sit-ups. Squats tighten not just your middle abs, but your obliques as well as your back by calling on your entire core for stability during the lift. A strength-training program will do more wonders for your body than all of the sit-ups in the world. If you want to transform your body, you have to lift weights. Every single ab workout product ever advertised on an infomercial combined is no substitute for putting weight on your back and learning to squat. Start there. And if you really insist...
4. Do some sit-ups. Once you have all of the important stuff taken care of: fat burning aerobic activity, proper nutrition to keep body fat low, a strength training program to build full body strength, then, and only if you really insist, you can do some sit-ups and crunches. But they're an afterthought really. They're something you can do just to tweak your abs a little bit after you've already done the real work that exposed them in the first place. Ab exercises are not the way to a beach-worthy body. They are merely a tiny accessory to keeping it that way.