By Judy Larson Posted in FITNESS
One of the most difficult parts of the body to tone is your waistline; we naturally store excess calories there. Genetically this storage is an advantage as our body is prepared for times when food is scarce. This propensity increases as we age. It is no surprise the internet is buzzing with searches for “belly fat workouts” as people strive to get rid of it.
Although diet is essential to helping you lose belly fat, you are not going to be able to do it effectively without putting in some real work – and that means physical exercise. The best thing about our suggestions today is that you do not need a gym to get your waistline in check! Without further ado, let us get right into the exercises and activities.
Out of all the effective weight-loss exercises that are out there, walking may be the most low-impact option – it can be done by nearly anyone and does not take an undue toll on your body.
Let us address the most obvious point of contention: can you really expect to lose belly fat and shave some excess mass off of those troublesome love handles? How does pumping your legs up and down (and forward) for 40 minutes to an hour help that? It’s a good question, because you cannot actually isolate body fat in any manner.
The trick is to lower your overall body fat percentage – then you’ll see some results in that region. Since the beginning of time, running, jogging or walking has been the go-to method for dropping calories. Although running obviously burns more calories, walking is right up there – as long as you keep your heart-rate up above normal and break into a light sweat.
If you have joint issues or power-walking is an issue for you health-wise, then you should consider walking in a pool. Walking in water takes most of the weight off your tendons, while at the same time providing plenty of resistance to really rev up your calorie-burning endeavors. No matter which exercise you choose in this article, be sure to consult with your physician.
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The medicine ball is also called by the more general name, “exercise ball.” Regardless of what you call it, it is one piece of equipment that can dramatically increase core strength and help you lose some belly fat. You will notice that intensity matters here: not only will you strengthen your abs and build a six-pack, you will need to keep up a good rate of intensity in order to lose belly fat.
Remember belly fat is not given to being spot-reduced. The reason why your body has begun collecting fat there is because you are above your ideal weight, and the belly is the body’s go-to storage section for calories that it assumes you may need later – just in case famine is around the corner.
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The key activity when using an exercise ball is to improve your core stability. When you minimize rest in-between sets, and use a ball of moderate but sufficient weight, you additionally burn the calories that are essential for losing body fat. The following will enable your abdominal region (primarily) to gain more muscles:
Your ultimate goal for crunches is to do 3 sets with 15 reps. Start with just 1 set of 10 reps to see how this goes, and slowly build up to the max in the days or weeks to come.
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In order to fully explain this belly fat workout, you first have to understand what the plank is. Several years ago, in fact, “planking” was an extremely popular social media phenomenon in which people would lie flat with their faces down on various supporting ledges. A quick Google images search will show you exactly what it looked like.
In any case, the plank is a core strengthening exercise that can be done by virtually anyone. When done on the floor, usually support your torso using your elbows flat on the ground. By holding this position, you will strengthen your core abdominal muscles as long as you maintain the position for a few dozen seconds or more. It can be a very taxing workout do it correctly, and for long enough. Again, you cannot spot-reduce, the plank by itself will simply strengthens these muscles without burning too much fat.
As for the so-called mountain climber core exercise, it is a mobile variation of the plank. In fact, it’s a sort of moving plank in which you maintain the same position – except with your hands on the ground the palms facing downwards instead of your elbows. You then pump your legs as though you’re climbing up a vertical wall (hence the name “mountain-climber”). You won’t have to do this for very long before you fully understand just how much this gets your heart rate going. The functional goal here is to make sure you drive one knee at a time towards your chest area to simulate running. Then you alternate sides. For best results, make sure you keep your stomach tight and try and push your belly button up towards your spine.
With the recent COVID-19 pandemic concerns, you’re probably mostly stuck inside the house. Now might be the time to take up bicycling – especially since the gyms are closed due to social distancing mandates. Bicycling is another one of those exercises that gives you more bang for your buck, so to speak. In fact, it’s even lower-impact than power-walking and jogging, and can be done by virtually anyone. The added benefit of being on-the-go and seeing the world about you is invaluable during this time.
So what are the caloric benefits of cycling? Assuming you weigh about 150 pounds, if you ride you bike for half-an-hour, you will burn anywhere from 300-500 calories (depending on speed). That is literally one modest-sized meal-worth of calories being shed, which will go a long way in eventually helping to rid you of that excess belly fat. As you get more experienced and improve your stamina, you can ride for a solid hour and really get your internal furnace burning.
If you prefer to remain inside your home, then you can simulate an outdoor bicycle ride with something called the bike exercise. Since you are mostly stationary, this one will do much more abdominal strengthening than direct fat-burning. It is, nonetheless, one of the best ab activities out there because it combines core strength, core stabilization and body rotation all into one. You will engage more abdominal muscles with this than with virtually any other exercise. Here are the steps:
You will engage more abdominal muscles with this than with virtually any other exercise. Here are the steps:
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Although this is a complete body-conditioning movement, the Turkish Get-up will definitely have you seeing some improvements in the abdominal region. It’s several centuries old, and is made a lot easier today with the use of a kettlebell. It’s not a body-building exercise, so you don’t need a large kettlebell for it – perhaps 10 or 15 pounds will do just nicely.
First, grab your kettlebell using two hands and then lie down on your side on the floor in a curled-up fetal position. Then, roll over until you’re looking straight up, with your back pressed straight against the ground and the your hands holding the kettlebell up towards the ceiling or sky (the latter if you’re performing this movement outside in your backyard). Once you’re able to control the kettlebell, move one of your arms away from it and sweep one of your legs at a 45 degree angle to a position such that you can use the off-foot to propel the side of your body still holding the kettlebell up.
Like we mentioned, this isn’t the simplest movement, and a Youtube video demonstration might be in order. It’s important to avoid shrugging your shoulders as you perform the exercise, because you want your abdominal core to bear the brunt of the exertion. The movement ends when you line up your arms and lift your torso up, working your way to standing up on your two feet. This is why, after all, it’s called the Turkish Get-up. Here’s a video to perform this advanced belly fat workout properly. The Turkish Get-up may require you to work up to it by using some of the lower-intensity workouts in this article.
There’s nothing complicated or involved about this belly fat blasting workout: the elliptical trainer is a favorite of gyms around the world. It could be time to invest in a trainer of modest size for your bedroom. The ability to just get up and jog for 30 minutes before breakfast can work wonders for your health and cardio routine.
Since there are many variations of the elliptical trainer, you need not restrict yourself to walking or jogging on one. Consider a stationary bike for a similar mechanical option, or a lateral pull-down machine where you’re cycling while pulling handlebars for a triceps and back workout. The latter would really elevate your fat-blasting routine, as you burn calories to reduce your overall weight and encourage your body to stop storing calories around your midsection.
The elliptical trainer is also good for people with joint issues – it eschews pounding the hard pavement that running requires. This low-impact alternative can be nearly as good – if not better – than outside jogging, since you won’t experience joint pain for days afterwards. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, it’s possible to burn 300 calories in just half-an-hour of work on an elliptical trainer. Not bad for a stationary machine that offers the convenience of portability.
Since you’ve already got an exercise ball, you should be able to perform something called “burpees”. Although you don’t need one for this exercise, it can add a lot of range and intensity to it – burpees are known for their ability to help you build a six-pack. Another important factor that the exercise adds is instability; this will develop very good functional strength for your stabilizer muscles, and activate your core even more as your body struggles to maintain balance on the uneven, spherical surface. All of this translates to better fat-burning.
The start position consists of standing with your feet apart (about shoulder-length), and with the exercise ball in both hands. Then, raise your hands along with the ball over your head and throw the ball hard to the ground while squatting in the same motion. It is important that, as you bend your knees, you drive downward using your hips – not your knees. You want your quads to activate with this motion. You’re not quite finished yet; next, jump up back into the standing plank position. Repeat this motion to perform several more medicine ball burpees and experience the burn! Aim to do 3 sets of these; the number of repetitions can vary depending on your general level of fitness. For the proper demonstration of the form, check out this short medicine ball burpee instructional video from Bodybuilding.com
Sometimes, the oldies are goodies. Crunches will definitely strengthen your stomach muscles – but they do not burn fat unless you do a ton of them. They are recommended after a cardio-burning workout that has already elevated your heart-rate.
The reverse crunch is especially effective; you want to lie on your back and cross your feet before lifting them up to a 90 degree angle. Do not use your arms to assist you, and then contract your stomach muscles as you raise your head and shoulders off the floor. You want to exhale as you contract and inhale as you descend back to the floor. For best results, 3 sets of 15 reps will get the job done as an auxiliary belly fat workout to bolster those abdominal muscles.
The vertical crunch heavily employs your legs, and is more similar to the original crunch than the reverse variation is. The key difference is the need to make sure your legs aren’t bent; this puts more pressure on your abs, which means they have to work harder and thus burn more calories. To get in the ready position, sit down and then lie back with your arms folded behind your head as if relaxing. Your legs then must be drawn up, and you’ll flex your stomach muscles to help you lift your head and shoulders off the ground. You’ll want to work in 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions for this movement.
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The official name for this advanced exercise is the “sprawl”; the advanced designation doesn’t mean that it’s difficult to perform; just that it is a serious full-body workout that can be truly taxing and wonderfully effective as a belly fat workout. The sprawl recruits a ton of muscles to help burn calories and add muscle tone to the entirety of your upper and lower body. Similar to the burpee, in this one you go all the way to the ground and turn more potential energy into kinetic energy.
The method is as follows: from a standing start position, make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart before you squat down and put your hands on the floor in front of you. Next, you will throw your feet behind you into a temporary plank, so that you are now effectively in a pushup stance on the floor. From this position, you will launch your feet to the outside position into a squat form, before standing fully upright fur first rep. Whew! As for how many reps you should do – this varies widely, since it can be such a taxing exercise. Make sure to do 3 sets of however many repetitions get you working up a light sweat. A light sweat is evidence that the workout is working, since you will sweat once your heart rate is up to a calorie-burning level.
As a final amendment to the sprawl, you can jump before going into your next rep. This is for really advanced people, since obviously it will reduce the number of reps that you can do overall. In the same breath, it burns calories like no other single exercise not using gym weights. Perhaps only the deadlift and squat are capable of burning more calories per rep than the burpee sprawl.
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For our final belly fat workout, we present to you one that both burns calories, and strengthens the abdominal muscles. You will need, ideally, a medicine ball for this one, too – although any weight will do (as long as it isn’t too heavy). Although you will find your entire body gets taxed doing this, the Russian Twist workout really targets the obliques (love handles). You’ll become stronger there, and see that much-desired definition, too.
Here’s the method: you want to grab your medicine ball and sit down flat on the floor. Holding the ball in your lap, lift your legs – knees bent – up until your feet are maybe half-a-foot off the ground; it doesn’t have to be this much, just make sure they are not touching the floor. Keeping your feet together, lean back with your spine straight until you form a 45 degree angle with your raised feet. The medicine ball should be held above your stomach with both hands, close to your body. Now, you can turn your upper body from left to right, while swinging the ball in the opposite direction to your side. Each time you do this, squeeze your glutes as well as your love handles on either side. Make sure it’s your ribs that are doing the torso-swinging and not your arms!
The Russian Twist is an easy exercise to get the hang of; check out some videos if you need a visual example to make certain that you are performing it correctly. If you can work your way up to 3 sets of 15 reps, then you’ll be well on your way to a fat-blasting core routine that will reap dividends in the months to come.