Christmas has been and gone, Dry January is complete, and those New Year’s Resolutions seem a long way away already. Now is the perfect time to take stock of your efforts this last month, and really knuckle down to reach your goals.
For many of us, especially those in the prime ‘middle age’ category, one of those main goals is likely to be getting rid of that belly. Stomach fat is something we all want to fight, but it’s one of the hardest to lose.
If you want to trim it down and develop those abs in time for a summer holiday on the beach, you need to start right now!
The troublesome Middle Aged Spread
It’s often referred to as the ‘Middle Aged Spread,’ but we know it more commonly as that really annoying fat around our middle. It’s common in both men and women, and it’s actually a natural occurrence in our bodies – which means it’s harder to get rid of!
Hormones are the main reason for the changes in our bodies as we age, because they slow down our metabolism when we get older to prevent us from holding on to as much muscles mass as we once needed. This slow metabolism means that even if we’re still eating the same, we burn less energy, putting on weight that has a tendency to sit around our middle.
But this is the worst area for fat to build up, and it’s been linked to a number of health concerns, including heart problems, diabetes and cancer.
It’s vital then that we know how to fight this stomach fat. Diet is one of the major factors here, and should always be incorporated into any kind of exercise regime. Make sure you’re eating well, and then try out these tips and exercises for a workout that will hit your tummy!
Remember, it’s not just about simple sit-ups!
1. Get the heart rate pumping
Cardiovascular workouts are absolutely integral to any weight loss regime, and it’s important you get your heart beating hard and the blood flowing fast in order to kick start your metabolism into burning that fat. Better still, it will burn fat across your whole body, not just your tummy.
Running is the most common exercise that springs to mind, but remember, even just a fast paced walk will challenge your heart rate, if you’re not fit enough for a jog. If that’s not your thing, try rowing, cycling or even swimming.
Try and change your workouts often to keep your body guessing, push your heart further, and prevent boredom. Boxing and aerobics classes are great for mixing things up. Short blasts of high intensity cardio will also really boost your metabolism and help you to burn fat even after you’ve stopped exercising.
2. Add weights into your workout
Many people think that to lose weight, they should be avoiding any kind of strength workout, but that’s simply not the case. Muscles use up more energy throughout the day, so the more muscles you develop, the more calories you’ll burn.
Remember, you shouldn’t just target your abdominals or core, because those aren’t the biggest muscles in your body. Work everything, but especially focus on large muscle groups like your legs.
Different variation of squats (such as leg kicks, standing side crunches and T-kicks) will work your abs and core too. Don’t forget to vary your strength workouts too – use Kettlebells, resistance bands and medicine balls to keep things interesting.
3. Work in your abs wherever possible
Almost every workout you do will work your abdominals, obliques or core in one way or another, but when you’re really focusing on getting rid of that body fat, you should work in specific ab exercises whenever you can.
Your cardio and strength training will be helping you to burn the fat around your middle, but you’ll also need to tone those muscles if you want to look good with your top off or your bikini on. Try sculpting your tummy with some of these exercises, and mix them into the rest of your workout whenever possible.
For example, you might sprint for a few minutes, then hop off the treadmill to do some crunches, before getting back up and sprinting again. Here are our favourite ab exercises:
- The Ab Twist
Start in the upright sit-up position, then lower your back down to a 45 degree angle, engaging your core. For a more advanced movement, lift your feet from the floor with your knees bent. Your body will be in a V shape, and you’ll twist from one side to the other. Holding dumbbells or a medicine bell will work a strength movement in, as you twist and touch the floor either side of you.
For this exercise, begin lying flat on your back, with your feet in the air and your knees bent at 90 degrees. In one simultaneous movement, you’ll stretch out your legs to hover your feet just above the floor and stretch your arms back behind your head. This will engage your stomach muscles as you prevent your feet touching the ground.
Pull your knees and arms back in to return to the start position. You can perform a half crunch as your arms come up if you want to work your abs further.
- Half-Way Sit Ups
Whilst full sit-ups are useful, once you get past a certain point in the movement your abs will no longer be engaged. Half sit-ups keep your core working hard throughout, as you raise your upper body up to 45 degrees – hold it here for a few seconds and you’ll challenge those abs even further.
If you’d like more help on burning the fat around your tummy, just speak to any of the trainers in the club.