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The #1 Best Workout to Shrink Abdominal Fat, Says Science

Crunches aren't the only solution for trimming down.

It seems to be the age-old debate when it comes to working out—is cardio or weight lifting more effective for getting a lean body? While nutrition is one of the most important elements of trimming any part of your body, working out is still important if you want to slim down and tone up. When it comes to flattening your abdomen specifically, research shows that it's not just one or the other but a combination of aerobic and resistance training will help decrease abdominal fat over time.

At first, researchers believed that aerobic exercise alone would help with decreasing abdominal fat. One study from the American Journal of Physiology in 2011 concluded that aerobic training (such as running, elliptical training, biking, etc.) was more effective in improving total fat found in the abdomen. This included visceral fat, which is the type of fat that accumulates around organs with the abdominal cavity and is proven to be dangerous. Increased amounts of visceral fat in your body can lead to developing diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

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Nevertheless, visceral fat isn't the only type of fat that can sit on your belly. Stored under the skin but right outside of the abdominal cavity you can find subcutaneous fat. It is known to be less dangerous compared to visceral and can accumulate not only in your belly, but also in your hips, thighs, and arms. While this type of fat can help with regulating your appetite and protecting your body against certain diseases (which means having some of it on your body isn't that bad for you), you can still slim down the amount in your abdomen if you're looking to get trim.

This is where the combination of both types of training comes into play. A 2015 study in the International Journal of Obesity concluded after four weeks of a supervised moderate-intense workout program with 304 overweight and obese adolescents, a combination of both aerobic and resistance training decreased abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue.

A review of randomized controlled trials published in Advances of Nutrition confirmed these findings, stating that it's not a one-or-the-other type of situation, but both types of exercise training combined lead to subcutaneous fat reduction.

The combination of aerobic and resistance training isn't just helpful for abdominal fat, but for all kinds of fat in the body. Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that an improvement in overall body weight occurred for obese older adults who participated in both types of exercise regiments.

In conclusion, switching between aerobic and resistance training at the gym, or even right at home, is an effective way to not only decrease abdominal fat and trim down, but also decrease your risk of developing chronic diseases linked to visceral fat buildup and obesity. Be sure to combine your workout efforts with a foolproof nutrition plan to achieve those results.

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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more