- Diet & Weight Loss
How to Lose Belly Fat Forever
You may not like the way that extra fat looks around your waistline, but studies show that this type of fat can do more than tarnish your image. Belly fat is unique in its composition and how it affects internal organs and systems.
It is referred to as the omentum by the medical community, and it acts like a living organ, secreting hormones and chemicals that can raise blood pressure and harmful proteins.
So how do you get rid of excess belly fat? Plenty of hard work (exercise) and healthy eating.
You know the fastest way to a lean, fit body is with exercise and good nutrition, but what type of exercise? And how do you target your flabby gut?
First off, know that you can't spot reduce your gut, not exactly. A slim waistline or sculpted abdomen are the result of consistent intense exercise and smart eating.
The second part of that equation is why I say 'not exactly.' If you cut refined sugars and excessive grains (of any kind,) and start eating more fruits, vegetables and quality proteins as your main diet, you will feel slimmer, and in fact, you will be accelerating your gut loss.
When it comes to exercise, forget the hype, the fads and the gimmicks. The ideal exercise program will incorporate the following:
Resistance training can consist of bodyweight, resistance bands, free weights, machines, or more likely, a combination of these.
For burning the most calories and fat while getting stronger, improving muscular endurance and building some muscle, incorporate the following exercises into your program at least 2x a week:
Great Pushup Ideas
Bodyweight Resistance Exercises
- Burpees: Burpees star standing up, go to a pushup position, back to a squat, and end with a jump. Repeat for a timed interval of 2:00-5:00 minutes for a serious heart pumper.
- Pushup Circuit: Beginners will probably find regular pushups to be challenging enough, but as you progress, string different pushups together for a greater metabolic burn.
- Jump Squats: Start off with bodyweight squats, or air squats, then start jumping. These will burn your quads and make you feel like you're running a race.
- Elephant Walkout/Plank Walkout: Starting from standing, reach down and touch the floor with your palms, then walk out to a plank or a superman plank if you can. Walk your hands back up to standing and repeat.
- Down Dog/Up Dog: This portion of a yoga sun salutation can be a great exercise to warm up and increase muscular endurance when done in higher repetitons. Be sure to hold at the 'up' and 'down' portions of this movement to maximize the benefits.
- Animal Crawling Movements: These are moves like the Bear Crawl, Crab Crawl, Monkey Walk, Tiger Crawl, Spider Walk and so on. They can be very intense and are great for building strength, muscular endurance, balance and agility.
- Pullups/Body Rows: Pullups, even assisted pullups, and body rows, place a heavy demand on the upper body and core.
- Hip/Neck/Back Bridges: A great exercise for extending and strengthening the spine, glutes, hamstrings and more. Start with hip bridges and work up to doing reverse pushups in a full back bridge.
Clean & Jerk
An intense free weight workout will have your muscles begging for protein when your'e done and probably for at least 48 hours afterwards. Whether you are male or female, lifting heavy will help you build a lean, strong body faster.
Use the 'big' compound movements with barbells or dumbbells for greatest results:
- Back Squats: Do this right and you will work the entire lower body and activate muscles througout the upper body as well. Be sure to tighten your midsection throughout the movement. If you have no idea how to back squat, have someone knowledgeable guide you through it. You don't want to improvise with this.
- Deadlift: Another great whole body exercise that will help you build glutes of steel and an iron grip. See this article for more on how to deadlift and squat properly.
- Clean & Jerk: Proper execution of this exercise is important to avoid falling on your back, which is why Crossfit starts off teaching people this exercise with only a PVC pipe. It's not hard to learn though, and is a huge whole body exercise that builds strength, power and coordination.
- Snatch: As with the Clean & Jerk, this one has a learning curve, but is an intense workout all on its own. Learn and your life will be better for it!
- Kettlebell Swing: A great exercise to build lower body strength and power, and one you will feel all over.
- Standing Military Press: The standing press forces you to engage your core muscles from your serratus anterior to your glutes (and lower) to maintain proper form and drive the weight up.
- Man-Makers: Really several exercise strewn together, Man Makers are typicaly done with dumbbells, but can be done with a barbell. You start off standing with the weight, drop to the floor, do a pushup, do a row to each side, hop back up to standing and press the weight overhead. If you had to choose one exercise, this might be it.
Studies Supporting HIIT
- Gorostiaga, E. M., et al. Uniqueness of interval and continuous training at the same maintained exercise intensity. European Journal of Applied Physiology 63(2):101-107, 1991.
- Trapp, E. G. and Boutcher, S. Metabolic response of trained and untrained women during high-intensity intermittent cycle exercise. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Dec;293(6):R2370-5.
There are numerous studies such as the two listed above that support the benefits of HIIT programs.
You need to include cardiovascular or aerobic exercise in your program for a healthy heart and greater endurance, but doing steady state cardio (where you can hold a comfortable conversation while exercising) is far less effective for buring fat than HIIT training, according to several studies.
This doesn't mean you should eliminate steady state cardio from your program, especially if you enjoy it. It is still beneficial and will help you to lose fat and get fit. It has its place for sports specific training programs as well.
Just remember that incorporating HIIT, high intensity interval training, on a regular basis, will maximize the benefits you receive from your efforts and time. This includes burning more calories during and for hours after the workout, increasing insulin sensitivity and over time, reducing your fat enzymes.
Flexibility and mobility training is essential to recovering from your workouts, especially as you get older. Devote as much time and care to this aspect of your program as any other.
Your efforts should go beyond single body part static stretches based on what feels tight or what bodypart you happen to be working that day.
Take a holistic approach and loosen up the whole body before starting exercise. Joint rotations are great for this and should be done from neck to feet.
For stretching, you can vary your intensity based on what you're doing afterwards or at all on that day. A little stretching after mobility exercises before you start a workout is great to prime the body, but it may be more beneficial to save it until after the workout.
Again, stretch the entire body. It doesn't have to be a full Pilates or yoga routine, but you can do an abbreviated version that will help you recover faster and feel more connected to your body.
On off days, feel free to do an entire stretching routine. Take a yoga or Pilates class or just work from the neck down and do static stretches combined with mobility exercises. This combination is a great way to help your body recover from previous days workouts.
Mobility and Whole Body Workouts
- Short Total Body Workout Routines
Quick full body workouts do work. Use the routines here to torch fat, build muscle and increase endurance no matter where you are or how much time you have!
Belly Fat Facts
Here are some other important facts to know about that ‘voluptuous’ belly fat:
- Belly fat secretes interleukin 6, necrosis factor and C-reactive protein, which contribute to insulin resistance and high cholesterol, not to mention inflammation. These factors are associated with the onset of diabetes and heart disease, among others.
- A study of women between the ages of 35 and 54 at the University of Southern California found that women with larger waistlines (more stomach fat) and higher BMI (body mass index,) have higher incidence of stroke. The American Heart Association and other organizations have long listed obesity as a risk factor for multiple ailments including stroke.
- You don’t have to be obese to increase your risk for the common culprits; heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol. Studies have shown even a small amount of belly fat puts undue strain on the body. Determining individual risk requires a body fat assessment and physical. Men who have 20-25 percent or higher body fat and women who are 30-32 percent or higher are in the danger zone and should consider a course of action to reduce their body fat.
- Extra abdominal fat can contribute to the development of dementia as you grow older. In a study by a Kaiser Permanente researcher over several decades, men and women were studied to determine if belly fat was a factor in getting dementia. Overall, the study determined that 21 percent of people with higher degrees of abdominal fat developed the disorder, even when taking stroke and diabetes into consideration. People who began the study with large amounts of stomach fat tripled their chances of getting dementia; participants who were just considered ‘a little overweight’ were twice as likely to develop it.
- The National Institute of Health published a study that found a direct link between waist size and premature death due to heart disease and cancer. The study also concluded that women should keep their waist size to 30 inches or less, and their BMI between 18 and 24. Remember to have your actual body fat percentage calculated though.
A Note on Effort
While everyone should be healthy before they start a regimen of exercise (if in doubt, see your doctor,) be honest with yourself once you do start. Evaluate your abilities and work within them, especially in the beginning of the journey.
When you have established a base of conditioning, be honest with yourself about your efforts. This applies to efforts put forth during workouts and efforts at staying on a strict diet. During the first few weeks, neither can be taken for granted. It is important to develop a new lifestyle to make this work. Fully commit.
It is amazing to see what one can accomplish when you really commit yourself. One of the best examples of this are the drastic physical changes of the actors and stunt crew for the movie "300."
In about 2-3 months (depending on the individual) Mark Twight and GymJones transformed these average or fairly fit men, into lean, ripped and muscular specimens that could pass for ancient Spartan warriors.
On the GymJones website, Mark Twight addresses the many critics and disbelievers of the methods used to achieve this transformation. Many accused them of using steroids. Yet, if anyone takes a look at the workouts these men were doing, it is hard to believe they wouldn't reach a peak of fitness and aesthetic appeal.
All that hard work and a Spartan diet (pardon the pun)? You try it for 8 weeks. If you can stick to it, I bet the results would be nothing short of spectacular.
Here is a sample workout from their training to get an idea of the intensity of the crew's daily labor. They call it "Louder than 11," and it is a partner workout. While one person performs a 50 meter tire drag, the other alternates doing pushups or pullups on gymnastics rings until the dragging is finished. They do this for 5 rounds, each.
This is just one of thousands of examples you can find from GymJones and other websites/trainers, etc. But the bottom line is that the results come from the effort put forth. Not the trainer, not the program or a special diet. Can you give more? Just what can you achieve when you really put your mind to it?
Louder than 11
To fight off a bulging belly, or eliminate an existing onemember, inaction and poor eating habits are probably the root cause. The best thing you can do is take action and improve your diet, and don’t quit.
Tips for Burning Extra Calories all Day
- Walk everywhere you can. Run or jog, even if you are going from the parking lot to the store. Wake up in the morning and not sure where to start? Get outside and start walking.
- While you are doing all that extra walking, carry something heavy. In my town there is a man who goes on long walks with what look like 40 lb. dumbbells dangling at his sides. I also see him resting on the corner with those dumbbells on the ground, but hey, he has a routine and he sticks with it.
- Avoid every processed food you can. Not all packaged foods are bad, but avoiding packages is a good place to start for simplicity's sake.
- This is a fight. Don’t back down. Once your weight is under control, maintain your healthy lifestyle.
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