Toning the belly is the process through which people try to improve their muscle tone so that their abdominal muscles appear to be more defined and physically fit. This process can be difficult, because there are many abdominal exercises available to learn, fat loss gimmicks, and overall conflicting opinions on what one ought to do in order to have the best looking abdominal muscles. In reality, however, their apparent definition does not depend highly on the types of exercises being done, but rather by the amount of fat that is laying on top of them. The best method for toning the belly is one that reduces this fat to allow the abdominal muscles to be seen.
When toning the belly, it is not necessary to use fancy equipment or to find the most advanced abdominal workouts available. Simple abdominal exercises done two to three times per week are adequate to achieve results, because diet and cardio are much more important than the type of exercise being performed. Simple crunches, sit ups, and leg raises using ab straps or a dip bar are all that one really needs in order to work out his or her abdominal muscles and tone the belly properly.
It is important to remember that the abdominal muscles are by nature no different than any other muscles that one might exercise in the human body. There is often an erroneous approach to the abdominal muscles, under the false belief that they are in someway different, and ought to be exercised differently than other muscles. Exercising and toning the belly muscles simply involves performing cardiovascular and resistance workouts that build up those muscles. To achieve better definition, however, body fat must be taken into account. It is not until overall body fat falls below 8% for men and 14% for women that the abdominal muscles will begin to show through.
There are two major things that someone can do to cut down on body fat when toning the belly. The first way to cut down on overall body fat percentage is by dieting — cutting down calorie intake and avoid fatty and sugary foods. Daily recommended calorie intake is different for men and women, and also differs depending on body weight, height, age, and physical activity level.
The second major thing that someone can do when toning the belly is to focus heavily on cardiovascular workouts. Cardiovascular workouts, since they are designed to help cut fat, are highly beneficial to those who are looking for more defined abdominal muscles. The body needs about 15 minutes of an elevated heart rate from exercise in order for his or her body to start using stored fat for energy. Someone toning his or her abdominal muscles would want to do at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity three times a week.