A stretched stomach and belly flab hanging over your jeans is the last thing you want to reveal as temperatures rise. You can tighten a stretched stomach with strength training exercises that target the abs. At the same time, burn excess flab all over your body with regular cardio and a calorie-reduced diet. Check in with your doctor before you embark on your belly-tightening plan to make sure it's right for you.
Blast belly fat with cardio exercise. Burn approximately 500 calories per hour with circuit training, jogging, cycling or spinning, or 250 calories per hour with a brisk walk. Expend 250 to 500 calories per hour daily to lose 1/2 to 1 pound per week.
Tighten your ab muscles with front planks, holding the plank position for 20 seconds. Transition into plank-foot taps by bringing your tush up so your body forms a wide upside down "V". Raise your left leg so your toes are about 3 to 4 inches off the ground, and then tap your left toes by your right foot 20 times. Switch to the other side and repeat. Do these three times per week.
Do a standing variation of ab crunches with squat-crunch combos. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and place your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the side. Squat down 45 to 90 degrees. Stand up while bringing your right knee up toward the left elbow as you bring the left elbow across your body to meet it. Return to the start position and repeat with the left knee and right elbow. Perform eight to 20 squat-crunches on each side, three times weekly.
Perform V-Ups to tighten your stomach and get a slender midsection. Lie down on your back. Draw in your abs as you simultaneously lift your straight legs and upper body 45 degrees off the ground to form a "V". Hold the pose for one count before slowly lowering your body to the starting position. Aim for 20 V-Ups, three times per week, but start with only one if that's all you can do of this challenging exercise.
Follow a healthy, calorie-reduced diet to increase your weekly weight loss. Reduce it by 250 to 500 calories per day to lose an additional 1/2 to 1 pound.
Consume several small meals per day, focusing on meals that consist of lean protein sources, fresh produce, whole wheat products and lowfat dairy.
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity
- Georgia State University: Physical Activity
- Shape Magazine: Bikini-Belly Bootcamp
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Common-Sense Strategies to Long-Term Weight Loss
- Rest is as important for reaching your fitness goals as exercise is. Give yourself one day off in between ab-toning sessions so the muscles can repair and recover.
- Dehydration often masks itself as hunger. Avoid succumbing to the temptation of fat- or sugar-laden snacks and foods by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Aim for eight to 10 glasses daily.
- It can take time to get your belly back in shape after pregnancy or excess weight gain. Be patient with yourself, follow your healthy eating plan and exercise consistently. Your persistence will pay off.
- Consume no less than 1,200 calories per day to ensure your body is receiving sufficient calories to sustain the energy needed for daily activities.
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.