Everyone wants six pack abs, it's a modern icon of physical fitness and beauty. Consumers spend untold amounts of money on an enormous variety of products every year hoping to finally achieve their six pack. Well there is bad news, good news, and more bad news, but no matter what the news it's always a smart move to educate yourself. Getting all the facts first can either help you find the shortest way to achieving your goal or it can convince you that some goals may not be realistic for everyone, but even that is preferable to the frustration of always hoping and never succeeding. Here's the low down:

The (first) bad news: Okay, this is actually sort of good news, but if you've spent a ton of money trying for super abs you probably won't be happy to hear that the absolute most effective all-around exercise for building and toning abs does not require any workout equipment. None. Definitely not purchased from a late night infomercial. Okay, well when I said none... maybe a mat. Having a mat is a good idea, especially if you have hardwood or stone floors. Plus, it's not specific to one exercise, you can use it for many. Everyone who exercises at home should definitely buy a mat almost no matter what they are doing.

The good news: You may have caught it above: The best all around exercise for your abs is something you can do at home with no equipment (except maybe a mat). For free!

The (really) bad news: This is the one that many of you are not going to want to hear, but it is the truth. Doing ab exercises will not burn belly fat. In fact, no one has yet discovered any way to instruct the body to burn one specific area of fat deposit over another, the body just burns the fat it wants to burn, when it wants to. Doing ab exercises will strengthen your abs, but it won't burn belly fat. Doing cardio will burn fat, including belly fat, and this is your best bet (other than stomach liposuction of which there are many procedures for liposuction of the stomach) for getting rid of unwanted fat covering your abs.

Now, the exercise in question is called the Bicycle and it's done as follows: Lay down on your back with your hands interlocked behind your head and your elbows sticking out. Keeping your neck steady and comfortable, use your abs to lift your upper body a bit off the floor (like a crunch exercise) and also bring both your knees up towards your chest. Now, push your right leg out and turn your body until your right elbow almost touches your left knee. Relax and repeat the modified crunch, but this time bring your right leg back up (lower the left leg) and turn until your left elbow almost touches your right knee.

This simple exercise has been shown to be more effective than elevated crunches, captain's chair lifts, and a whole slew of other abdominal exercises. Those exercises do work, but this works even better (and can be done at home for free)!