A jiggly belly pouch or muffin top hanging over the waistband of your jeans can make you feel embarrassed about your appearance. While there's no such thing as spot-reducing exercises to lose weight only in your belly area, you can combine aerobic exercise with body-weight exercises for your core to whittle your middle. Not having to use weight equipment frees you up to perform your exercises whether you're at home, work or on the road.
Increasing your muscle mass will help your body burn calories more efficiently. Body-weight exercises such as squat thrusts, and front and side planks will help you tone your midsection while building muscle mass. Do seated trunk rotations to further tone your abs. Sit on the floor, and then lean your upper body back about 45 degrees. Keep your knees bent and feet on the floor as you extend your arms out in front of you with elbows bent slightly. Bring your torso up 10 to 20 degrees while maintaining a flat back. Rotate toward the left, and extend your arms as if reaching past the outside of your left knee. Return to the starting position, and then repeat on the other side. Do a total of eight to 16 trunk rotations.
Squat thrusts with a twist are also effective for slimming your stomach. Stand with your feet hip-width apart while extending your arms forward at shoulder height. Squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor while rotating your trunk to the left. Return to the standing position, and rotate your torso back to center. Repeat on the other side; perform eight to 12 reps in each direction.
Circuit training is an excellent type of cardio and strength-training exercise, especially if you're short on time. Put your multitasking skills to work by performing a three-minute segment of cardio, followed by a 45-second segment of strength training. Do cardio exercises such as jogging in place, stepping up and down off a step aerobics platform or using your treadmill. After three minutes of cardio, do 45 seconds of a strength-training move. Although these work other muscle groups, you can also perform squats, lunges and rows to engage your abs.
Body-weight exercises such as walking, jogging and stair climbing can help you lose weight and reach your goal of a more slender stomach. Add interval training to any of these exercises and you can immediately increase the fat-burning benefits. Perform one of these body-weight cardio exercises for four minutes at your normal pace, and then follow it with one minute of faster-paced movement. For example, you can jog for four minutes, and then run for one minute. Or, walk briskly for four minutes, followed by a one-minute jog. Interval training allows you to burn calories, tone muscles and do so in a shorter time than you'd normally need for exercise. Instead of walking for one hour, you can burn the same number of calories in 45 to 50 minutes by alternating between walking and jogging.
Keep in Mind
Regardless of how anxious you are to ditch the belly fat, schedule an appointment with your doctor to get the OK. If you haven't worked out in a long time, it's wise to meet with a personal trainer to learn which exercises would be most beneficial for you and how to perform them properly. Although you can expect some mild muscle soreness after exercising, especially in the beginning, acute pain isn't normal. Stop exercising right away, and consult your doctor before starting again.
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- American Council on Exercise: Ab Exercises
- University of New Mexico: The Fitness Professional's Complete Guide for Circuits and Intervals
- MayoClinic.com: Rev Up Your Workout with Interval Training
- MayoClinic.com: Muscle Pain
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.