How to Lose Belly Fat Without Losing the Thighs or Butt

Try high-impact plyometrics for a fun strength machine alternative.
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Chiseling a tiny waist while maintaining curvy glutes and thighs remains a popular priority for both beginner and advanced athletes. While it isn't possible to spot-train particular body parts, training muscle groups for size and performing cardiovascular exercise for less abdominal fat makes the tiny-waist-and-curvy-hips dream attainable. For the best results, consult your physician before beginning your new routine and make proper nutrition a habit.

Cardiovascular Health and Your Waistline

The American Council on Exercise reports that cardiovascular exercise forces the body to convert fat to energy. ACE recommends raising your heart rate for a minimum of 90 minutes per week and preferably more for long-term weight maintenance. ACE also reports that alternating intense cardio with longer recovery periods reduces both subcutaneous and abdominal fat, resulting in a smaller waistline. Regular cardiovascular exercise also helps your heart and lungs deliver nutrients to your body more efficiently, reduces chronic disease and aids sleep and mental health. Jogging, stair-climbing, biking and dancing all burn fat and calories aerobically; running burns the most calories overall.

The Byproduct of Cardiovascular Exercise

Because cardiovascular exercise reduces fat all over -- not only on your waistline -- maintain larger quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes with hypertrophy training techniques. Hypertrophy increases the size rather than the quantity of cells, resulting in larger-looking muscles. Weight-bearing exercises such as squats, lunges and bridges work the thighs and glutes and will help you maintain a curvy, strong and toned physique. According to fitness expert Joe Cannon, athletes may observe muscle growth after approximately eight weeks of hypertrophy training.

Hypertrophy Training Specifics

Training for muscle size requires lifting heavier weights for eight to 12 repetitions per set; work up to three total sets, resting for 30 to 90 seconds in between. Cannon, an exercise physiologist and personal trainer, also notes that performing multiple exercises per muscle group -- and performing a new set before the muscle has completely recovered -- produces better hypertrophy results than single exercises. For example, holding heavier weights and performing no more than 36 total repetitions each of squats, lunges and bridges works the same muscle groups and produces larger legs and glutes.

Fitness Tips

When performing squats and lunges, never allow your knees to travel past your toes. Keep your knees above your ankles; should they buckle inward, hold less weight. Maintain tight abs, a raised chest and eyes, and don't let your knees bend more than 90 degrees. When performing bridges, squeeze your glutes as you rise and keep your knees and your hips in line with each other. While a burning feeling means your muscles are gaining strength, a weak feeling means you're performing too many repetitions for hypertrophy purposes. Finally, eat a diet of lean protein and complex carbohydrates to adequately fuel your fitness regimen.

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