While focusing on crunches will strengthen your abs, it unfortunately will not get rid of the extra fat around your waist. To get rid of ab flab, it's essential to regularly include calorie-burning cardio in your routine. And not just any kind of cardio — it's important to focus on interval training; alternating between moderate and speedy bursts of exercise is the key.
A study in the International Journal of Obesity revealed that when compared to women who cycled at a consistent pace for 40 minutes, women who worked out for 20 minutes, but alternated between eight-second sprints and 12 seconds of low-intensity cycling, lost more belly fat after 15 weeks. Work out half as long and lose more fat? Sounds good to me!
You can do intervals with virtually any type of activity. Here are some ways to incorporate them into your routine:
- Use visual goals: Run or bike at a moderate pace, and then look ahead and sprint to the mailbox that's 50 feet away, or up the hill, or to the end of the street. Once you reach your goal, reduce back to your moderate speed. After your breathing returns to normal, choose another goal to race to.
- Use time: Watch the clock and move moderately for two minutes and then zoom as fast as you can for one minute. Repeat this pattern for at least 30 minutes.
- Use music: Make an interval playlist, alternating between fast-paced peppy tunes and slower, chill tunes. Walk, run, or dance to the beat. Here's a 60-minute walk-run playlist, or for a faster-paced workout, try this 40-minute running playlist.
- Try Tabata: This HIIT workout — 20 second intervals of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for 8 rounds — is only four minutes. You can use the Tabata protocol for almost any type of workout, from running to kettlebell swings. You can even perform multiple 4-minute sets of Tabata for a longer, more intense workout.
- Use a POPSUGAR Fitness interval workout: If you find it easier to follow a cardio routine, check out these interval workouts:
- 45-minute fat-burning treadmill workout
- Tush-toning hill repeat intervals
- 45-minute walk-run-sprint workout
- 45-minute elliptical interval workout
- 10-minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) video workout
- 30-minute pyramid intervals
- 30-minute Barry's Bootcamp running workout
- 30-minute beginner intervals
- 60-minute walking-jogging workout