The spot reduction myth claims that fat can be lost over a certain area by working the muscles beneath it -- if you want to lose fat on your stomach, do situps. The truth, however, is that you lose fat over your entire body. The best way to lose belly fat requires strength training combined with regular cardiovascular exercise and a healthy diet. Thus, you can incorporate leg exercises in an all-around exercise and weight loss program to burn belly fat.
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Belly Fat and Cardio
Belly fat, the visceral fat that lies under your abdominal muscles and around your internal organs, responds best to cardio exercises. To reduce belly fat, incorporate at least 30 minutes daily of brisk walking, swimming, bicycling, running or other aerobic exercises. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes of moderate-level activities per week to improve your health and 300 minutes per week for weight loss.
About Muscle Fibers
The body has three major categories of muscle fiber that respond best to different types of exercise -- fast twitch and two forms of slow twitch. Fast twitch fibers are most active during short duration, high intensity exercises like jumping, while both forms of slow twitch fibers respond to low intensity, long duration exercises like jogging. Running and lifting leg weights in the same week will help you keep all three types of muscle fiber active, growing and burning fat.
Frequency of Workouts
Do cardio work five days a week for an hour and strength train three days a week. The combination of the two is meant to work all muscle fibers, keep your cardiovascular system healthy and strengthen your body’s ability to burn through body fat. A study published by Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata in 1998 in "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" showed that strenuous exercise can cause the body to burn through increased amounts of fat hours after the workout is done. As your muscle mass increases, this effect will increase because muscles burn more calories at rest.
Exercises that will burn the most fat are the ones that produce the greatest amount of work in the shortest amount of time. Power exercises are explosive movements performed in six to 10 sets of 10 repetitions. An example of an explosive leg workout may include jumping jacks, squat jumps, power cleans and situps. These exercises will work every muscle of your legs and give you a well-rounded workout.
- National Academy of Sports Medicine: Program Design Concepts
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; Effects of Moderate-intensity Endurance and High-intensity Intermittent Training on Anaerobic Capacity and Vo2max
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?