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Having visible abs requires you to lose abdominal fat.
It's easy to daydream about the approaching bikini season, but if you want a body about which you can feel proud, snap back to reality and get exercising. Building a sleek, toned stomach area isn't something you can accomplish overnight, but the use of the correct exercises and some adjustments to your diet can help you create a toned, tight midsection. The length of time needed to build a toned stomach area depends on how much fat you have to lose and how frequently you're able to exercise.1.
Reduce your daily caloric intake to improve your ability to lose stomach fat. Developing a strong midsection is possible even with excess stomach fat, but you won't experience visible muscle definition unless you lose fat in this area. Cutting back on your calories is key for fat loss; it's possible through such diet modifications as reducing the size of your meals; avoiding alcohol, soda and fruit juice; increasing your intake of vegetables; and limiting the frequency of restaurant meals and high-calorie snack foods.
Devote 150 minutes to vigorous cardiovascular exercises or 300 minutes to moderate cardiovascular exercises per week to lead to the loss of overall body fat, including the excess fat from around your stomach. The specific nature of the cardio exercises you adopt dictates how much time you should devote to them. If you favor a moderate form of cardio such as walking, you'll need to exercise more than if you use an up-tempo exercise such as swimming laps.3.
Strengthen your abdominal muscles twice a week, allowing a couple days of recovery time between each workout. The American Council on Exercise recommends performing up to three sets of a maximum of 25 repetitions, regardless of the ab exercise you choose. The organization notes that the bicycle maneuver, leg raises while using a captain's chair and crunches on a stability ball are the three best ways to strengthen your rectus abdominis muscles.
- Not everyone can develop a six pack of abs. Some people are more genetically predisposed to a tight, toned core, while others can have relatively little belly fat and strong abs but not have much definition. In a "USA Today" article, fitness author Peg Jordan notes that the right genetics play a significant role in developing a washboard set of abs.
- Strengthening your abs isn't just beneficial during bikini season. A strong core, notes Harvard Health Publications, improves your posture while lessening lower back pain.
- Avoid diets and other types of shortcuts as you attempt to lose your belly fat. MayoClinic.com reports that weight-loss shortcuts are difficult to sustain for an extended period of time. Instead, set an attainable goal of losing 1 to 2 pounds a week.
- Exercising your abs through activities such as the bicycle maneuver and crunches won't target your belly fat. Although such exercises play a secondary role in fat loss, it's impossible to exclusively zap your belly fat.