A muffin top that's quickly morphing into a belly pouch can make you feel self-conscious about your appearance, and it could also put you at-risk for certain illnesses and diseases. Forget the temptation to spot reduce because this is nothing more than a myth. Instead, a combination of fat-burning cardio and muscle-toning exercises can help you get the lean look you desire. Before you get started on your weight loss program, talk with your doctor to be sure you're doing what's best for your body.
Get your body moving and your heart pumping with at least 300 minutes of cardio exercise each week. Lose 1/2 to 1 pound of fat all over each week, including your midsection, by burning 250 to 500 calories per day with aerobic exercise.
Do forms of aerobic exercise you enjoy so you'll be more likely to stick with your exercise program. Walk, do yoga or play with the kids for one hour to burn 250 calories. Take a one-hour bike ride, jog or swim if you want to burn 500 calories in the same amount of time.
Rev up your calorie- and fat-burning potential by adding intervals into your aerobic workouts two to three times per week. Pick up the pace for 30 to 60 seconds after every four minutes of exercising at your normal pace.
Do sets of strength training exercises targeted for your middle, for example, the pike crunch exercise. Lie on your back while extending your legs and arms straight up toward the ceiling. Lift your arms, shoulders and chest off the ground as you reach for your toes. Lower your upper body as you reach your arms overhead and lower your left leg until it's hovering above the floor. Keep your right foot pointing at the ceiling. Lift your arms and left leg into crunch position again. Alternate between lowering your left and right legs each time you lower your upper body and extend your arms. Do eight to 16 repetitions, every other day.
Get those sides cinched in by toning your oblique muscles with standing side crunches. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, your left arm extended straight out from your side and your right hand behind your head with the elbow bent. Lift your right knee out to the side and up as you try to meet it by bringing your right elbow toward it. Perform eight to 16 standing side crunches every other day.
Work your ab muscles by doing knee tucks with a stability ball. Get on all fours, and then place your feet on top of the center of a stability ball. Extend your legs to straighten them by rolling the ball away from you with your feet. Use your ab muscles to help draw the stability ball back toward you as you bring your knees close to your chest. Perform eight to 16 knee tucks every other day.
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- Harvard Medical School: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- Mayo Clinic: Belly Fat in Women--Taking--and Keeping--It Off!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity
- Fitness Magazine: Get a Flat Belly in 10 Minutes
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Common-Sense Strategies to Long-Term Weight Loss
- American Council on Exercise: Ab Exercises
- Increase your weight loss results by following a calorie-reduced diet. Cut 250 to 500 calories per day, without dipping below a daily total of 1,200, to lose 1/2 to 1 pound per week.
- Focus on eating healthy foods, such as fresh produce, whole grains, lean protein sources and low-fat dairy.
- Avoid sugary fruit juices and sodas that contribute toward belly fat. Drink eight to 10 glasses of water per day to remain hydrated and boost metabolism.
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.