Trim your waste and get leaner abs by doing sprint interval training instead of wasting lots of time on sit-ups and abdominal work. For many people, the biggest obstacle to achieving chiseled abs is losing the fat that covers the abdominal muscles. Don’t worry—there is a solution!
A wealth of research shows that the most effective way to lost belly fat is to do sprint intervals, or what is often called high-intensity training. For example, a new study in the Journal of Obesity showed that an interval cycling program allowed young men to lose 17 percent of their belly fat and shrink their waists accordingly. They lost almost 4 pounds of fat from the abdominal area and 5 pounds of total body fat. Compare these results to a 2010 study that showed abdominal training doesn’t produce any fat loss.
The difference between sprint interval programs and ab strengthening programs is that intervals train the large muscle groups of the lower body, leading to more energy being used. They also stress the anaerobic energy system that is used for short but intense bursts of exercise. This energy system tends to shift the body into a fat burning mode, whereas abdominal exercises are usually more aerobic in nature and don’t burn fat.
For the best looking abs include the following components in your workouts:
• Do sprint intervals at a track. Try 20-second all-out sprints with 20 seconds rest in 4 sets of 4 intervals. Rest 3 minutes between sets.
• Try the cycling intervals used in the Journal of Obesity study (8 second sprints with 12 seconds rest for 60 sprints total—this is just 3 sprints a minute for 20 minutes).
• Try hill or stair running in which you sprint up as fast as you possible and jog down. Try to repeat immediately. Do 8 to 16 reps.
• Do a total body strength-training program in which you use multi-joint exercises such as lunges, step-ups, chest press, pull-downs, and chin-ups. These exercises require you to contract all the muscles in your trunk if you do them right.
• Restrict ab training to one exercise per strength training session—opt for reverse crunches or leg lowering if you have a strong lower back.
Heydari, M., Freud, J., et al. The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males. Journal of Obesity. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.
Boutcher, Stephen. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. Journal of Obesity. 2011. Published Ahead of Print.