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Flat abs are not only physically attractive, but also a sign of health. Getting rid of belly fat will decrease your risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and some forms of cancer. Ab exercises will tone the muscle, but only cardiovascular exercise will get rid of the fat covering the muscle. For fast stomach-flattening results, you need to engage in regular aerobic and strength training exercise, and eat a healthy diet.
It's a myth that ab exercises will give you a flat stomach. While they will tone the abdominal muscles, they won't burn fat in a specific location. To get rid of belly fat you need to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends doing 300 minutes a week -- 60 minutes five days a week -- of cardiovascular exercise for fast weight loss. While any exercise that gets your heart rate up will burn fat, activities such as rowing, kickboxing, running and tennis offer additional abdominal toning.
It's not possible to completely isolate one abdominal muscle group from the others; however, some exercises produce more engagement in some muscles than others. The reverse crunch engages the lower portions of the abdominals and external obliques. Lie on your back, bending and lifting your knees until they are directly over your hips. Extend your arms out to your side. Squeeze your lower abdominals to lift your hips off the floor. Hold for a count and return to the start position. Move slowly with control to insure that you're using the abs and not momentum. Do eight to 15 repetitions for one to two sets.
Lever Seated Leg Raise Crunch
The lever seated leg raise crunch works both the lower and upper abdominals by combining a crunch with a reverse crunch. Sit on the lever seated crunch machine, hook your legs under the pads and hold on to the handles. To perform the crunch, simultaneously flex forward pulling the handles down and lift up with hips. Return the start position and repeat for one to two sets of eight to 15 repetitions. Move slowly and with control to avoid using momentum and to prevent injury.
Diet and exercise combined provide the fastest results in flattening the lower stomach. You can reduce calories by monitoring portion sizes and making lean, low-calorie food choices. Avoid cutting too many calories as that can slow your metabolism and hinder weight loss. Men need at least 1,800 and women 1,200 calories a day, more if you are exercising.