Stop wasting time doing 1,000 crunches a week and camping out by all the abdominal machines; there are non-ab targeting exercises that will shrink your stomach.

To lose fat in the abs, you must create a huge energy deficit in your body. When your body is depleted of energy, it will dip into stored fat reserves for energy.

Doing ab exercises will not create a substantial energy deficit because abdominal muscles are small and weak.

And small, naturally weak muscles do not need much energy, even after crunching them a thousand times.

If you focus your weight workouts on the legs, buttocks, back and chest, AND, if your exercise routines are intense, you will create a significant energy deficit — a deficit that occurs for hours after the exercise session has ended.

During this deficit period, the body is in grave need for recuperation energy. It will grab this energy from stored body fat.

If your fat is in the abs, then voila — your exhausted legs, butt, back and chest will dip into these fat reserves.

The result? Fat loss in the abs. It doesn’t matter that your abs weren’t exercised. When the legs are exercised intensely with weights, this creates a need for large amounts of energy both during the exercise and for hours after the workout has concluded.

The fat that’s stored in your abs will be used for this energy, to help the legs recuperate, and to sustain the new muscle that has been grown as a result of the exercise.

I have my clients doing intense squats, plus grueling leg presses, and then burning leg extensions and rigorous hamstring curls, and I could see their waistline getting smaller and smaller over time.

For an extra punch add pull-ups (work on those!), rows and the bench press.

So if you want to get rid of abdominal fat, focus on working the large muscle groups, because these demand the most energy for exercise, and for recovery after the exercise.

And then, they continue requiring energy for maintenance (as long as you keep exercising them intensely with weights). And this energy will come from the fat in your abs.

The only way this plan won’t work is if you start eating like a hog because you think the hard workouts entitle you to it. Eat sensibly and watch the fat come off your abs.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.