Let's face it -- those love handles hanging out from the top of your jeans are not your best look. Making a commitment to change it is a big step toward meeting your goals, and since you already know that gym machines are going to help you meet your goals, you're even further along. However, the gym machines you might be thinking about using might not really be the ones you should be focusing on. Instead of thinking only about abdominal exercises, you may need to take a broader approach.
Whether you want to lose your love handles, slim down your arms or lose fat on any part of your body, the secret is not to do loads of exercises for these specific body parts, but to focus on losing overall body fat. In short, you can't "spot reduce" and focus just on the abs. Instead, you have to do exercises that burn lots of calories. With that in mind, you'll have to start looking beyond that ab crunch machine.
Big Calorie Burners
When choosing gym machines, look for the ones that burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time. Among aerobic forms of exercise, running and rowing burn the most calories, so the treadmill and the rower are both going to be big calorie-burners. While the number of calories you burn is going to depend on your weight and the amount of time and intensity you put into it, running on the treadmill will burn an average of 600 to 1,200 calories per hour. Rowing, meanwhile, will burn an average of 1,000 calories per hour.
Another thing to consider -- your level of boredom with a machine. If you're using a machine you don't like, you're not likely to stick with that type of exercise very often. If you prefer the elliptical, which can burn an average of 600 calories per hour, or the stair climber, which burns an average of 400 to 500 calories per hour, use those machines instead, so you'll be more likely to stick with a solid four- or five-day-a-week schedule. To lose 1 pound of fat, you have to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories -- though don't take the "calories burned" estimators on those machines as gospel, as they're still just estimations. To make them as accurate as possible, be sure to enter your weight, age and other information into the machines before you start each workout.
Sticking with a routine of at least 30 minutes of cardio four or five days a week is going to help you burn loads of calories and slim down -- but you may still want to do exercises that tone those abs. Since your love handles are located along your sides and back, you'll want to focus on exercises that work the obliques. Among the ab machines at your gym, the "captain's chair" is one of the most effective ways to work both the obliques and the rectus abdominis, or "six-pack" muscles, according to a study published by the American Council on Exercise. The "torso track" and "ab roller" were also somewhat effective, according to the ACE study. Don't overlook the reverse crunch and the bicycle crunch as effective ways to tone the abs and obliques as well.