No one wants a muffin top -- or worse -- the full spare tire. When you're ready to get rid of that flab around the middle, picking up a set of weights is a good move. Lifting helps you build muscle and stronger bones -- and on top of that, muscle helps you burn fat more efficiently, according to MayoClinic.com. As you go about your lifting routine, try a few techniques that will help you give your abdominal area some extra attention. And let's be really clear here: when you're lifting weights, you're toning the muscle underneath the fat -- not the fat itself.
Contract your abdominal muscles as you do any part of your lifting routine. Tucking your hips forward and contracting the abdominals will also prevent an over-arching of your lower back, which can lead to chronic pain or injury. Work on this position as you do squats, lunges or any other types of lifting exercises.
Sit on a fitness ball as you do bicep curls and tricep extensions. This will allow you to strengthen your entire core -- including your abdominals and back -- as you strengthen your arms. Using a fitness ball, also called a stability ball, is a way to develop your core muscles, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Place your shoulders and upper back on the top of the fitness ball, resting both feet on the floor, as you perform lateral arm raises -- raising your arms from near your thighs to a position over your head -- with a set of dumbbells. As you raise your arms overhead, you'll find that you'll need to use your abdominal obliques to stay on top of the ball. You can also do dumbbell or barbell press exercises from this position, which will require more use of your core muscles.
Lie on the floor and place your feet and calves on the top of the exercise ball, and then perform another set of lateral arm raises, or a set of "butterfly" type exercises. To do the butterfly, start with your arms above your head, so that they're positioned perpendicular from your chest, and then open both arms out to your sides. As you do these exercises, contract your abdominals to keep your feet resting on top of the ball.
Hold a barbell plate in front of your chest as you do regular sit ups. Adding more resistance to your situp routine creates more intensity -- which can help you tone your abdominal muscles faster.
- Try each of these exercises three to four times a week, making sure to give your muscles at least a day of rest between workouts.
- While toning your abs will benefit you, if you want to lose a significant amount of fat, you have to burn calories through cardiovascular exercise. When you burn calories, you'll lose fat all over your body -- including in your midsection.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.