Not having access to a gym is no excuse for not being in awesome shape. You may not have the latest thigh machine, a wide array of dumbbells or an expensive treadmill, but you do have the most effective training tool of all -- your own body weight. Unfortunately, the notion that you can spot reduce belly fat is a myth; however, with the right combination of exercises and routines you can burn calories like never before and reveal those perfect abs. Get ready to shred fat from the comfort of your own home.
No other body-weight exercise builds strength like pushups. They work your chest, shoulders and triceps, as well as using your core and upper back muscles as stabilizers. Pushups are one of the fundamental chest exercises for women, writes Shannon Clark, personal trainer and writer at Bodybuilding.com. If regular pushups are too difficult, then do them on your knees. There are plenty of other variations too, such as feet- or hand-elevated pushups, single-legged pushups and close-grip ones, which target your triceps. You could also mimic dumbbell rows by loading up a grocery bag with tins and lifting it like you would a dumbbell. Once these are too easy, fill a bag with your shoe collection -- that should keep your strength going for some time.
The humble squat should be your go-to leg exercise. It hits the hamstrings, glutes, calves, quads, lower-back and core muscles. Aside from squats, lunges are a great way to further torch your quads, and glute bridges performed with both legs, single-legged or with your feet elevated will hit your hamstrings just as hard as any gym leg-curl machine. For an added challenge, try more advanced single-leg exercises such as split squats and jump or reverse lunges. Women are more prone to knee injuries than men, according to corrective exercise specialist Mike Robertson, author of "Bulletproof Knees." Getting strong on single-legged exercises strengthens the knee joint, and reduces your risk of injury.
Just because you can't spot reduce fat from your belly doesn't mean you shouldn't train it. A strong core helps prevent back pain and makes your abs even more impressive when you do get them showing. Stick to stabilization exercises like the plank, side plank or ab wheel rollout, along with crunches, leg lifts and reverse crunches. Burning fat is all about burning calories, so high-intensity body-weight exercises such as burpees and squat thrusts will also help in your quest for a flat stomach.
Cardiovascular activity is a high-calorie burner and extremely efficient in speeding up belly fat loss. While you may not be able to jump on a treadmill or elliptical machine at home, you can still incorporate cardio into your routine. For instance, you could follow aerobic exercise videos or run up and down stairs. Alternatively, jumping rope is an effective way to get a cardio workout and hit your calf muscles at the same time. Try jumping rope for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Train for 45 minutes, three to four times per week. Train your whole body in each session, as this further increases calorie burn and boosts your metabolism. Each session aim to do more reps or sets than the previous workout and keep pushing yourself. To prevent boredom, why not add some home gym equipment? A chin-up bar, resistance bands, medicine ball and exercise mat can all be purchased for a small investment and will add endless more exercise variations to your routine. If you're feeling even more adventurous, a kettlebell or pair of adjustable dumbbells wouldn't go amiss either.
- ExRx: Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths
- Bodybuilding.com: Why Women Can't Afford to Avoid Chest Training
- Bulletproof Knees; Mike Robertson
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.