A muffin top or belly pouch is the last thing you want to show off in a pair of jeans or a skirt. You can have a toned stomach, feel more confident about your appearance and have a better-looking midsection by doing both cardio and strength-training exercises. Cardio helps you lose that stubborn belly fat, while strength training exercises tones the ab muscles. It's a combo that delivers the trim, toned stomach you're after.
Aerobics for Fat Loss
While you can't target just belly fat with exercise, you can shed the flab on your midsection by losing weight all over. Perform cardio exercise 150 to 300 minutes per week to slim down so the ab muscles you're developing can eventually be revealed. Vary your aerobic exercises if workout boredom is an issue, and break up your workouts into smaller mini-sessions throughout the day to fit your schedule. Brisk walking can help you burn 250 calories per hour for a loss of 1/2 pound per week, while jogging, biking and swimming burn around 500 calories per hour for a loss of 1 pound per week.
Trunk Rotations with Medicine Ball
Tone your tummy while slimming your obliques -- the muscles along your sides -- with trunk rotations. Sit down on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a medicine ball with both hands, and then lean your upper body back 30 to 45 degrees. Maintain a straight line from your tush to your head to prevent yourself from curling in at the shoulders and chest during the exercise. Use your ab muscles to power the move as you rise up with your torso; turn toward the left and extend both arms while holding the medicine ball. Lower your upper body to the starting position, and bring the ball back in front of your chest. Alternate rotating to the left and right until you've performed eight to 24 reps on each side, three times weekly.
Pass the Block
Get flat abs by engaging your upper and lower abs with this exercise. Pass the Block starts with you sitting on the floor with your knees bent and heels resting on the floor. Position a yoga block or small pillow between your feet, keeping it secure. Lean your upper body back about 45 degrees. As you bring your torso back to center, draw your feet in toward your middle so you can pass the block from your feet to your hands. Hold the block as you lower your upper body 45 degrees. Repeat this exercise eight to 24 times, each time passing the block between your hands and feet, and then back again. Perform this exercise three times per week.
Swing and Hold
Tighten your tummy by performing eight to 24 reps of the swing and hold exercise, three times per week. Stand with your feet 2 1/2- to 3-feet apart while holding a kettlebell with both hands. Position the kettlebell so it's centered in front of your abs. Squat down about 45 degrees while bringing the kettlebell down and between your legs in one fluid motion. Step your left leg in toward your right leg as you lift your body and swing the kettlebell over your right shoulder. Step out with the right foot as you lower your body into a squat again, this time stepping back in with the right foot as you swing the kettlebell over your left shoulder. Repeat this exercise, alternating sides until completion.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- Mayo Clinic: Strength Training-- Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- American Council on Exercise: Ab Exercises
- Fitness Magazine: Flat Abs Fast-- The Core Strengthening Workout
- Shape Magazine: The Best Flat Stomach Exercises
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.