Stick with a routine of cardio and ab exercises for a killer midsection.
Focusing your workouts on ab exercises and cardio can help you drop pounds, trim your middle and tone up all over. However, there are a couple of additional elements to include in your plan. According to the American Council on Exercise, all fitness programs should involve total-body strength training and flexibility exercises, as well as heart-healthy cardio work. Creating a 5-day-per-week fitness routine that includes these key components will give you a well-rounded plan that can help you get in shape and reap all the health benefits.
Design The Routine
For a 5-day routine, personal trainer and strength coach Joe Dowdell in "Shape" magazine suggests 3 days devoted to strength work and 2 days to cardio, with 2 days off to rest. Strength days, which include ab work, should be alternated with cardio days to allow your muscles to recover. Stretching and flexibility exercises should be done at the end of each workout. Set up the schedule to best accommodate you, whether that means staggering your recovery days or enjoying them consecutively. A target time frame for each workout at the beginning is 20 to 30 minutes, but as your fitness level improves, you can increase the duration and intensity of your exercise sessions. Also, be sure to allow adequate time to warm up and cool down at the beginning and end of each workout.
Add Cardio Exercises
On your cardio days, the most important factor is to find an activity that you enjoy doing so you stick with it. This might be bicycling, running or swimming. Other cardio exercises include rowing, dancing or following along with an aerobic video. You can also try a combination of activities for your fitness program. One way to add some variety and maximize your twice-weekly cardio work is to incorporate some interval training, which alternates between high and low-intensity exercises. For example, instead of jogging at the same speed for 20 minutes, you could start by walking for 2 minutes to get your heart rate up, then sprinting for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then easing back into a walk. Alternate these slow and fast paces for the length of your workout, ending it with a walk to cool down.
Do Your Core Work
As part of your 5-day plan, core exercises should be done on all 3 strength-training days. Core workouts include exercises that strengthen your abdominal muscles and back. For a plan with a focus on ab work, spend about half of the time working these core muscles. Warm up with exercises like front planks and pelvic tilts. Planks are done by holding the standard push-up position and maintaining a tight core, while pelvic tilts are done by lying on your back with your knees bent and raising and lowering your pelvis. After warming up, work your abs even more with crunches, sit-ups, V-ups and trunk rotations.
More Stength Training
As mentioned, your 5-day fitness plan also needs to include exercises that will work other major muscle groups in addition to your core. This includes your arms, chest and legs, and these should also be done on your 3 strength days, either before or after your core exercises. Bodyweight exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, squats and lunges. If you have access to free weights or machines, you can include exercises like biceps curls and dumbbell flyes.