Crunches work the upper abdomen, leg raises work the lower abdomen, and side bends work the obliques (also known as love handles). About 15-25 reps each day should be enough. If you can do more than that, try adding weights to your routine. Note that doing crunches will only build muscle underneath your existing belly fat, but will not burn that fat directly.
Peterson is a fan of Chaturanga Dandasana—a.k.a. yoga pushup—for the extension and isometric contraction it provides: From plank, bend your elbows and begin lowering toward the floor, with every part of your body an equal distance from the floor. Keep your elbows close to your body, abs engaged (not clenched), back straight, thigh muscles active, and glutes soft. Start by holding the pose above the floor for 5 full, complete breaths, and work up to 10. Push back up to plank in 4 counts. Do 4 reps every other day.
“First and foremost you have to train your abs on all three planes. You have to train them forward and back with something like a crunch or double crunch. You have to train your abs laterally to hit the obliques with something like a dumbbell side bend. And you have to train your abs on a rotational plane—your transverse abs—and you can do that from a seated trunk twist."
I’ve completed the third line. I just realized I’ve been doing the leg lifts wrong. I was doing them as alternating, not as double. No wonder it’s felt so brutal! As I said on the Thigh challenge, I didn’t understand why there was 12 days of doing exercises 1-3 ten times, and 6 days doing exercise 4 ten times. Now that I’ve completed Day 18, it makes perfect sense. My abdominal area is getting stronger, which is helping with my belly fat. Today after doing all five exercises 10 times I thought “I’m supposed to do these 22 times?!” My next thought was “No, I’m supposed to increase these five exercises by a count of 1 over the next 11 days and finish up with 22 times.
As for celebrity fad diets, Stork says he's suspicious. “I'm wary of all celebrity fad diets. I think when we started hosting 'The Doctors' is when the maple syrup diet came out, and it was all about, 'Oh pour a little maple syrup with lemon,' and I was like, 'No, no, that's not going to cure you of all that ails you. I think people need to be careful with celebrities because we always forget … celebrities have a lot of money and access to a lot of things that most normal people don't."
©2007.C. W. Randolph, M.D., Genie James. All rights reserved. Reprinted from From Belly Fat to Belly Flat. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street , Deerfield Beach , FL 33442.
"Researchers are now discovering that gut bacteria also seem to play a role in the complex process of weight loss and weight gain," he writes. "We don't know exactly how much impact our Little Buddies have on our weight, but we're learning enough to believe that understanding the connection more fully may help us as we confront the obesity epidemic in the United States — and in our own bodies."
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