When it comes to slimming down your waist and getting 6 pack abs, a lot of people (including the experts) have gotten it all wrong.

They tell you to do a lot of reps of traditional abdominal exercises such crunches and sit ups and side bends, torso twists etc.

But if you are only doing these exercises to the exclusion of body exercises, do me a favor – actually do yourself a favor and just stop right now.

Here is the deal – there is a place for abdominal workouts. But overdoing crunches and the like is potentially harmful and at any rate, not effective.

Potentially Harmful?

Your ab muscles are not meant to be used in the flexing and bending of your spine. The essential function of your abdominal muscles is to maintain midline stability; that is, to protect your spine from bending or twisting too much.

Individual joints in your spine don’t have that much mobility. As a matter of fact, the spinal joints are primarily made to bear axial loading (along a straight axis), rather than twisting. Your spine bears load optimally when it is in its natural S curve shape.

However, when you start doing lots of these twisting and crunches in the hope of getting a lean stomach, your spine is deviating from its neutral position and you are putting unnecessary strain on the individual joints in your spine.

This often leads to poor posture and back pain.

Conventional Abs Training Ineffective?

Maybe you are thinking bearing a “little” back pain is worth having a sexy flat belly. But doing crunches, weighted and bicycle sit ups in isolation is not that effective because you cannot spot reduce belly fat.

You could do 100s of crunches and sit-ups daily – your abs won’t show if it is blocked by excessive stomach fat. Your body’s metabolism just won’t respond enough to burn off the excess tummy fat when you such exercises.

Case in point, I once saw a man on tv who had the Guinness record for sit-ups and he still had no abdominal definition. The key to getting the definition is doing the kind of workout that promotes fat burning over your entire body.

Unfortunately, there are certain areas of the human body that are more prone to fat gain (and by extension more resistant to fat loss); hips and thighs for women and stomachs for men.

There are scientific reasons for this of course. One is that those areas of the human body have greater alpha 2 receptors (A2) in the fat cells. A2 blocks the fat releasing enzymes in the fat cells and encourage body fat formation.

So to combat stubborn belly fat, you’ll have to pay attention to the intensity of your workouts. Plus your diet is going to play a massive role in this. Consume more sugary foods and drinks and you have a recipe for unwanted weight gain and possibly obesity.

I go into a deeper explanation of the science in this post but for now, these nutrition and exercise tips should put you on track to that perfect body.

Lean Body Secrets

1. Do high intensity interval training. This works better for increasing your metabolism and losing fat than aerobic exercises/ slow cardio workouts. You should also add into the mix, some resistance training (weights or bodyweight exercises) to help build strength.

2. Do more core stabilization exercises such as planks and side planks. These exercises make the muscles of your trunk stronger which in turn help keep your spine and body stable. A stronger core will make you less prone to training injury and back pain.

If you don’t have back pain issues, you could mix in conventional flexion ab exercises such as crunches and no-momentum sit-ups as well as rotational exercises such as Russian twists and cable woodchopper.

Also include hyper extensions in your routine to balance out your routine.

You actually could no abdominal training and still have a nice sixer, if you get lean enough. But by getting in some ab training, you could have your six pack show up in a more dramatic fashion.

The keys to “abs training” are balance, variety, not overdoing them and slowness. In an interview (which can be downloaded in PDF format here), respected fat loss expert, natural bodybuilder and personal trainer, Tom Venuto, points to the importance of doing abdominal training slowly while squeezing the muscles.

If for example you do sit-ups rapidly, you reduce the quality of the muscle contraction because you are using momentum and not muscle action. Mr. Venuto also states that he does only 15 minutes of ab work, twice per week, from 2 – 4 exercises for about 10 – 25 reps each exercise.

3. If you are overweight, reduce your calorie intake by around 15-20%. Avoid refined simple carbs such as cakes, sodas etc and eat more natural complex carbs such as vegetables, brown rice, beans etc.

Eat a source of complete lean protein such as egg whites and fish on a daily basis.

Keep total fats and saturated fats low. About 20% – 30% of total calorie consumption should be fat. But make sure it is the right kind of fats.

Replace saturated fats in your diet with foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids such as tuna, salmon, walnuts and flaxseeds.

4. Drink more water especially if you are physically active. Consuming more water can help you feel more full and cut your appetite for unhealthy foods.

5. Get adequate sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours per day. Lack of proper sleep can increase stress levels in your body and can make weight gain easier and weight loss more difficult.

Having Ripped Six Pack Abs Is Nice But…

Don’t think it is just subcutaneous fat (the fat that everyone sees) is the biggest problem. No – actually, the more serious problem is visceral fat – that is, the fat around the organs.

A healthy diet and exercise plan will help to reduce both subcutaneous and visceral fats. But you should also consume a health dosage of omega 3 fatty acids. These nutrients are known to help reduce both types of fat.

The best way to get an adequate intake of omega 3s is to take molecular distilled fish oil supplements daily. This way is most convenient and you’ll get the purest concentration of omega 3s.

Fish oil is also great for fighting inflammation and disease, improving your skin and sex life and so much more. It is the one supplement that many anti-aging doctors around the world agree that people should be taking daily.

In closing – let me impress upon you that your quest to lose belly fat will require time and effort on your part. Forget about the fad diets and the worthless ab machines. Waste of time and money.

Go with a proven program for burning unwanted belly fat.

Author's Bio: 

David Cassell shows you how to lose stomach fat for six pack abs the right way. David is also author of "Kick Butt Metabolism" ©2010, owner of http://RippedAbsWorkout.com and publishes a Fitness E-letter