If you want a sculpted, narrow waist, you can't crunch your way there. According to the American Council on Exercise, spot reduction is a fitness myth, and isolated strength exercises can't help you lose fat. However, cardio exercise does burn off enough calories to get rid of excess weight, no matter where on your body it may be. To get a defined waist and a slimmer, streamlined stomach, combine regular cardio with exercises for your obliques.
Exercise with cardio at least five or six times per week for 45 minutes or longer at a time, as ACE recommends for weight loss. You can do any kind of cardio you choose, including biking, hiking, swimming, jogging or even brisk walking. Keep in mind that more intense exercises burn more calories, so you may lose weight faster if you can incorporate tough activities into your workouts.
Cut down on the number of calories you eat. According to Dr. Donald Hensrud, a preventive medicine specialist with MayoClinic.com, reducing calories is more effective for weight loss than exercise alone, although the two strategies work best in concert. If your belly is one of the most prominent areas on your body with extra weight, it should begin to show positive results within several weeks of starting a reduced-calorie diet and regular workout plan. To lose a pound per week through diet alone, cut 500 calories per day.
Work on strength exercises that target your obliques, the muscles that wrap around your waist. Oblique exercises also challenge abs and your core, helping to shape and tone your entire midsection. Try doing Russian twists while holding a weighted medicine ball, performing standing knee crunches and working on holding side plank poses for as long as you can. Do one or two sets of each strength exercise several times per week in addition to your cardio work.
Keep track of your results as you follow your routine. Before you begin, take your hip and waist measurements, take a clear photograph of your waist area and weigh yourself. Take the same measurements after every two weeks of following your plan, and take a new photo as well. You'll likely begin to notice changes within three to four weeks. If you can't see any positive differences after about six weeks, speak with your physician about the possibility of adjusting your plan.