Belly bulge is the bane of many women's existence. It's unsightly, uncomfortable and unhealthy. Flabby abs increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Squats and planks tone the core, which is important for balance and stability. To get rid of belly fat, you need to do more than squats and planks by adding cardiovascular exercise to your toning routine, because spot-reduction is a myth.
Move your body for 45 to 60 minutes a day, five days per week, to burn fat, suggests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Target your abs by rowing or doing kickboxing. Interval boot camp exercises, such as squat thrusts, can work as well.
Do body-weight squats. Stand with your legs hip-width apart and squeeze your ab muscles as you bend the knees and hinge at the hips as if you're sitting down, until your thighs are about parallel with the floor. Straighten the legs to stand up. Do one to two sets of 12 to 15 squats. Challenge yourself as you get stronger by holding dumbbells in each hand.
Perform one-leg squats for more core engagement. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and extend your arms in front of you for counterbalance. Lift your left leg forward as high as you can. Bend the right knee and hinge at the hip while keeping the left leg off the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat. Switch legs after one set. Perform one to two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.
Do planks for total body strengthening. Lie face-down with your forearms on the mat and shoulders over your elbows. Extend the legs behind you. If you're a beginner, lift your hips while keeping your knees on the floor. If you have a strong core, lift your body, supporting it with your forearms and toes. Make sure your back and hips are straight. Don't allow your belly to sag toward the floor or your behind to poke up in the air. Hold the position as long as possible, up to one minute.
Vary your planks for better belly toning. In a plank position, lift one arm and the opposite leg off the floor. Another option is to turn your body so you're sideways, supporting your body with one forearm. Or you can do a plank with your forearms on a stability ball.
- Harvard Health Publications: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- MayoClinic.com: Core exercises: Why You Should Strengthen Your Core Muscles
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- BBC Sport Academy: Work on Your Squat Thrusts
- American Council on Exercise: Bodyweight Squat
- ExRx.net: Single Leg Squat
- ExRx.net: Front Plank
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet to fuel your exercise.
- Talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program. If you have knee or back problems, work with a fitness trainer to learn modifications or alternate exercises for squats and planks.
Leslie Truex has been telecommuting and freelancing since 1994. She wrote the "The Work-At-Home Success Bible" and is a career/business and writing instructor at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Truex has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Willamette University and a Master of Social Work from California State University-Sacramento. She has been an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified fitness instructor since 2001.