The only time a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly is charming is if you’re Santa. And since you’re no Mr. Claus, we’ve enlisted fitness expert Brent Bishop to share some tips on how to bust that belly fat.
Firstly, a word to the wise: it won’t be easy work. “For men, the estrogen-testosterone balance is affect by age—as you age, testosterone declines, and this can impact the balance, and promote belly fat and muscle loss,” he explains. And while women have a tougher time losing belly fat, men do tend to pack on more of it, and so it’s smart to be concerned about the risks it’s associated with (including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, to name just a few).
Modifying your diet is important, but your exercise regimen plays a key role, too. “To maximize fat loss, the focus should always be exercise that (a) increases lean muscle mass and (b) burns calories,” says Bishop. He recommends including regular strength training and interval training to your routine. “Interval training is proven to have a lasting effect on elevating your metabolism, assisting with testosterone levels and reducing fat deposition,” he says. To get started with intervals, Bishop suggests incorporating hill sprints. “Choose a hill of approximately 150 metres and sprint up the hill, then jog lightly down for recovery. Complete eight to 12 reps.”
As for your abs specifically? You can do all of the crunches you like, but the truth of the matter is that you can’t spot train by doing abdominal exercises in order to lose the belly fat. “You are much better off doing compound movements and exercises that engage the large muscle groups of the body,” says Bishop. Once you’ve made over your workout to include the above, however, you can target the abs to help tone the muscle and draw in a tighter stomach.
Here are three exercises Bishop suggests including in your workout:
“This is a great exercise to target large muscles of the body, elevate your metabolism and challenge your cardiovascular system for a combined approach on burning fat,” says Bishop.
• Holding a set of dumbbells at shoulder height, drop into a squat and then come out of the squat while pressing the weights quickly overhead.
• Complete 15 reps with a weight that is challenging for the last few reps (Be sure to maintain form throughout).
• To advance this exercise, try increasing the weight and squatting below 90 degrees (as long as you can maintain good posture and form).
“This is good for targeting your core muscles. While it doesn’t directly burn fat, it tones the muscles underneath the fat and helps draw belly in,” explains Bishop.
• On forearms and toes, draw your bellybutton in and tighten the core while you hold the plank position. Keep your body in a straight line and your head should be hovering straight above your hands.
• Start by aiming for 30 seconds to one minute based on your ability to hold the form, and progress by adding more time as you become stronger.
• To advance this exercise, try elevating one foot off the ground then switch (alternating sides) all while keeping your hips still and core tight.
“This compound exercise builds lean muscle, elevates metabolism and helps burn fat,” he says.
• In squat position, hold the cable bar with underhand grip, arms straight. Come out of squat while simultaneously pulling the bar into upper abdominal area and squeezing shoulder blades together.
• Repeat by lowering back into squat while straightening arms back to start position. • Complete 15 reps.
• To advance this exercise, add a jump squat (absorbing your body weight to 90 degrees) to each rep, instead of just a regular squat.