A lean midsection is at the top of most workout wish lists, especially with warmer weather on the way. In fact, it’s the most common fitness question I get asked. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to getting rid of stubborn belly fat, the midsection is one of the hardest areas of the body to reduce.
Genetics, age, hormones, and lifestyle habits all contribute to midsection size. And contrary to popular belief, you cannot field train this area. This means that no amount of sit-ups or crunches will reduce your waistline, although they will help strengthen these muscles and build endurance. The same concept applies to other popular problem areas like bra bulge, inner thigh chafing, or loose skin behind the arms.
A more effective approach: Engage in exercises that reduce your overall body fat percentage.
Choose a routine that balances high-intensity cardio and strength-training exercises that target the powerhouse, lower-body muscles such as quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Larger muscle groups burn more calories in a shorter time than upper body exercises alone. This plan, combined with a nutritious diet of lean meats, whole grains, and fiber, is the best and healthiest way to reveal a leaner physique.
Here’s an example of what a full-body HIIT workout looks like. For best results, repeat the entire circuit three times, three days a week, plus 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio (such as walking) each week. If possible, limit breaks between exercises to 60 seconds or less and no more than two minutes between sets. You will need a set of free weights.
Grab a free weight in each hand and assume a plank position. Keep your wrists straight and strong as you distribute your body weight between your hands and balls of feet.
Your spine is straight, your gaze is slightly forward, and your abs are engaged. Pull your right arm towards your ribs until the weight is right next to them and your elbows are pointing up at the sky. Squeeze the shoulder blade, then release the weight downward. Now run on the left side. Continue alternating for 10-12 reps. If easier, the same exercise can be done without weights or from the knees.
You can hold the free weights in your hand during this plank pose or push them to the side, whichever is more comfortable.
Quickly push your knees toward your chest one after the other for 20 counts. Avoid letting your hips move or bend during this time.
Fists side to side
Stand with your feet wide apart and your hands balled into fists in front of your chest.
Simultaneously strike right fist across body as you pivot on ball of right foot. Come back to center and strike the body with your left fist as you pivot on your left foot. Stay low as you continue this sequence back and forth for 30 reps (15 on each side). If you want an added challenge, you can hold light free weights (somewhere between three and eight pounds).
Hold a single free weight overhead with one hand gripping each side of it. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
Pull the right knee up and the weighted arms towards the knee until they almost meet. Squeeze your abs for two counts, then release your arms and legs. Think of this like a standing sit-up. Now practice lifting your left leg. Keep switching legs for 20 counts (10 per leg).
With body weight on right foot, step left leg diagonally behind you. Explosively push off your right foot, jumping to your left and landing on the ball of your left foot. Swing your arms for momentum and stay low as you lift side to side. Practice for 20 reps (10 on each leg).
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