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What are the best and fastest exercises for toning abdominal muscles? — A. Egan, WA

Richard Cotton


What most people are looking for when they say they want "toned" abdominals is having abs that you can see. However, there isn''t really a fast way to get this washboard stomach. It''s a two-step process: You must strengthen the muscles themselves, and also lose the fat that covers them. You can do crunches until the cows come home and that fat won''t disappear. The best way to lose it is to combine aerobic activity with strength training and a healthy diet. Remember though, there''s no such thing as spot reducing you will lose weight all over your body and your genetics will determine where the fat will be lost. Unfortunately, the midsection is usually the final holdout.

Try not to get too hung up on six-pack abs. You can be fit and healthy and still have some fat around the middle. The best exercise program is one that balances hard work with body acceptance.

About Richard Cotton

Richard T. Cotton is the chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Richard oversees the ACE's studies and evaluations on fitness products and serves as the ACE's media spokesperson for these studies and other health and fitness issues. He has written numerous articles on health and fitness-related topics such as the importance of certification and safe and effective exercise techniques.

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