By Saiyed M. Fauzan Ali

First Things First, the endless amount of crunches is not the key to a flattened belly. Although the crunches, sit-ups, pushups and other abdominal exercises strengthen and develop the muscles that lie underneath all that excess belly fat, however, they will not burn away the excess fat that covers up your abdominal muscles.

If you are really committed to getting rid of that spare tire you carry around all day and are willing to carve a gorgeous waist using cardio and other abdomen exercises, then the most critical factor that you need to consider is your diet. You need to cut down on processed carbs, refined sugar, and other foods with empty calories, and fill up your plate with fresh vegetables, protein, and other whole grain carbohydrates. If you ask me, I often have Banana-Oat Pancakes or Oatmeal with Yogurt and Bananas (pre-workout) and freshly chopped vegetables mixed in with organically produced Hummus alongside brown rice and lean cut ground beef/Turkey or grilled chicken steak using olive oil (post-workout). That is right folks, abs are made in the kitchen. The idea is to pair up your workout with a reduced calorie diet. Pairing a reduced calorie diet with an intense workout will help create a calorie deficit. This means that you are consuming less amount of calories than you burn. Therefore, your body will tap into the fat reserves for fuel, hence, reducing your body fat percentage.

In addition, the type of cardio exercise is less important than the intensity of the exercises you perform. A high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves alternating short sessions of all-out effort with small gaps for rest, is highly effective in activating the fat-burning mechanism. A study published in the Journal of Obesity confirmed that HIIT is highly effective as compared to a steady state cardio when it comes to shedding away body fat which includes hypodermic and visceral fat (Boutcher, 2010).

So, to perform a HIIT cardio you need to first warm up for 10 minutes using an exercise mode of your choice, and then go all out following a structured workout session for 3-4 minutes at a time. Next, you recover for an equal or longer period of time before starting again. A HIIT can be performed for 20 to 30 minutes at an intensity which is 20 to 30 percent of your maximum heart rate. The best way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. Let’s say my age is 30, so my maximum heart rate would be 190 beats per minute. Now coming towards the best exercises that are really effective in burning away body fat and building abs (dependent on your intensity level, of course):

Exercise Caloric Burn
Step Aerobics 372 Calories
Burpees 300 Calories
Running 372 calories
Rope Skipping 372 Calories

*Average Caloric Burn for a 70kg person for 30 Minutes of HIIT.

Whichever cardio workout you choose, make it a part of your on-going routine. Aim for a HIIT cardio session two to three non-consecutive days per week. For better results, alternate your HIIT sessions with strength training sessions. Like for me, Monday-Thursday is booked for strength training (gym) sessions, and Friday-Sunday is booked for Cardio training.

One thing I should make clear is that it all depends on your genetics. For some people, it is easier to lose body fat and sculpt their abs, while for others it can be really hard. So don’t compare your progress with someone else’s results, just trust the process, put in the hard work, and results are guaranteed. Till next time, stay Blessed and Happy!


Boutcher, S.H., 2010. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. Journal of obesity, 2011


Saiyed M. Fauzan Ali is an MBA/M. Phil specialized in Supply Chain Management and a Certified LSS (USA). The Author has worked in the past as a research analyst and a critical reviewer. He is the founder of The Health Sphere and a fitness and writing enthusiast. You can follow the author on Instagram @saiyedfauzan or visit his Linkedin Profile

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