Hip Hop Abs is, as all the commercials promise, a fun and fast way to tone your abs without doing a single crunch. It's also a good cardio workout. But despite all the impressive testimonials, the four workouts you receive when you order Hip Hop Abs may not be enough for weight loss on their own. You're also going to need a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, lots of water -- and maybe a little variety in your workouts, too.
Your Workout Plan
Start with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations for a healthy amount of cardio exercise of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. That works out to doing any of the four workouts that come with Hip Hop Abs six days a week.
The aforementioned CDC exercise recommendations are for maintaining a healthy body, not losing weight. In order to get the weight off, you're going to have to put in some extra work. You may need as much as 60 to 90 minutes of cardio most days of the week to lose weight. Get there with your Hip Hop Abs workouts by either increasing your intensity -- by doing the hip-hop moves larger and harder, with more energy -- or by adding in extra workouts.
Mix in two or three days of strength training every week, with at least a full day in between each workout. This will help tone your muscles and burn extra calories.
Maintain at least one day a week inviolate as a rest day. It'll help keep you energized and reduce your risk of overuse injuries or overtraining.
Other Factors to Watch
Fuel your body for those workouts -- and set yourself up for weight loss -- with a low-fat diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. If you think you're eating correctly but can't seem to lose weight, try logging everything you eat and drink for an entire week. You might be surprised by what you discover.
Drink plenty of water. In an article for U.S. News, holistic nutritionist and fitness expert Yuri Elkaim recommends aiming for at least half as many ounces as your weight in pounds. So if you weigh 180 pounds, you should drink at least 90 ounces of water per day -- or even more if you still find yourself feeling thirsty.
Eliminate, or at least reduce, your alcohol intake for as long as you're trying to lose weight; it's a significant source of hidden calories. For example, a single margarita packs enough calories to cancel out a half-hour of calisthenics.
Get enough sleep every night. According to a study in a 2008 issue of Obesity, inadequate sleep has been linked to overweight and obesity -- especially in younger age groups. However, experts still aren't entirely sure of what causes this link.
If you can't meet the CDC's exercise recommendations when you first start out, just do what you can. You'll be able to increase your workout duration and intensity as you get stronger.
If you're doing everything on this list but still not losing weight, compare your calorie intake to how many calories you're burning every day. To calculate your calorie intake, keep an accurate log of everything you eat and drink. To figure your calorie burn, add your basal metabolic rate to any calories you burn doing Hip Hop Abs plus any other exercise you do that day. If you're not burning more calories than you take in, you need to either add exercise or tweak your diet to be lower-calorie without sacrificing nutrition.
If you find yourself getting bored with the four workouts in Hip Hop Abs, or if you find that they're no longer challenging, substitute a different cardio workout of similar (or greater) duration and intensity. Anything you enjoy will do the job, so try cycling, swimming, inline skating, other types of dance workouts and so on.