Weight training is one of the fastest ways to mold a jaw-dropping body. It tones, burns calories, strengthens bones and floods your system with enough endorphins to leave you on cloud nine all day long. Be advised of this myth buster, though -- training your tummy and thighs by doing squats, crunches, lunges and situps will not spot reduce fat. High intensity workouts using full-body exercises will reduce overall fat, including the fat on your thighs and tummy.
Targeting Fat Loss
You cannot burn fat by concentrating on certain body parts. The myth comes from the idea that fat can be "turned" into muscle, but this is not true. Muscle will always be muscle, and fat will always be fat -- unless they are burned off. A University of Massachusetts study in the mid-1980s found that 13 male subjects who participated in a 27-day abdominal exercise regimen lost weight evenly throughout the body; fat-loss was not more prevalent around the tummy.
Knee Cross Crunch
Tone your legs, butt and abs with this exercise. Stand a little farther than shoulder-width apart with your legs lined up with your hips -- this is the starting position. Begin by placing your right hand on your hips, then extend your left arm up. Bring your left elbow down and as you do, bring your right knee up to meet it. Your knee should lift chest high or higher. Return to the start and switch it up -- bring your right elbow down and left knee up. Contract your abs with every knee-lift. Complete 12 reps, then go immediately to the next exercise in the circuit.
Dumbbell Squat and Press
This exercise is all-in-one; it works the shoulders, butt, legs and core. Hold dumbbells at your shoulders with your elbows bent and pointing toward the floor. Keep your legs hip-width apart. Begin by bending your knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Keep erect, squeeze your abs as you bend and look straight ahead. Stand and press the weight toward the sky until your arms are fully extended. One squat combined with one press is considered one rep. Complete 12 reps, then go immediately to the next exercise in the circuit.
Dumbbell Pushup Row
This is a great upper-body exercise for the back, chest, shoulders and triceps. Grab light dumbbells and get into a plank position on the floor -- arms and legs extended with toes supporting your weight, elbows locked and back straight. Your feet and hands are a little wider than shoulder-width apart. With your hands gripping the dumbbells, lower down by bending your elbows until your nose almost touches the floor. Return to the start by extending your elbows. From the plank position, lift your right arm in a way similar to how you would start a lawnmower, and keep your elbow close to your side as you do. Complete another pushup, then row with your left arm. A row with one arm combined with one pushup is one rep. Complete 12 reps, then go immediately to the next exercise. If you reach muscle failure before 12 reps, complete the remainder with your knees touching the floor.
Matthew Demers is a certified personal trainer based in Windsor, Canada. He is also the co-founder of YourSpace Fitness.