For both men and women, belly fat seems to be the most common enemy we face. The accumulation of fat may be different across all areas of our body, but a desire to lose belly fat is the overwhelming goal I hear from clients and blog readers alike. Just browse the checkout aisles of any supermarket or do a quick Google search for “belly fat” and your bound to find tons of magazines, blogs, and websites dedicating their pages to burning belly fat.
The problem is, much of this advice is generic copy, written and re-written a hundred times over. Check out your favorite health and fitness magazine…it’s essentially the same information written in a different way. How else could they continually run those “Lose 10 lbs of belly fat in 2 weeks!” articles? While there isn’t one specific way to cut down on that spare tire, there are certainly efforts that will go a long way in your battle of the bulge.
Burning Fat, Not Just Belly Fat
One important thing to keep in mind is despite all that you may have read or been told, it is impossible to spot tone. What that means is, there’s no way you can actively target the fat on your stomach when you work out. No pill, exercise, or workout plan is going to change that. Now, what you can do, is perform exercises and workouts that are geared towards a greater fat burning potential, which will result in a faster loss of belly fat. So in reality, specific exercises aren’t necessarily targeting belly fat, they’re just helping you burn fat at a faster rate, which results in faster loss of belly fat. Make sense? Good.
Each individual is different, so some trial and error may be needed, but these are generally the fastest ways to burn fat and slim down your midsection in the process. Again, these exercises don’t target belly fat specifically, they just help your overall fat burn, and result in a tightening of your soft belly.
- Swimming – Swimming is a total body exercise and relies a great deal on core strength. By targeting your core muscles you’ll actively tighten and build your abdominal, lower back, and oblique muscles while shedding tons of calories in the process. The result? A slimmed down appearance and a beautifully toned core. Shoot for 1-2 times per week to start.
- Metabolic Conditioning – Metabolic conditioning is vital in the fight against belly fat because it helps speed up your metabolism in a way few other exercise methods can. The quick shift between explosive cardio and heavy lifting taxes your body, blasts through calories, and tightens you up. Performing core exercises as part of your metabolic conditioning circuit will further define your midsection..leaving you with a beautiful six-pack when you finally do burn away the fat hiding the muscle. Shoot for 1-2 times per week to start.
- HIIT Cardio – HIIT cardio is the shift between short periods of high-intensity cardio and longer periods low-intensity cardio. Start substituting HIIT for those long, single-pace jogs, cycling sessions, or marathon elliptical workouts. The act of sprinting/jogging/sprinting repeated X times over is great for burning far more calories in shorter period of time, bumping your post-exercise oxygen consumption (which results in more calories burned AFTER exercise), and improving your cardiovascular system. This method of training is ideal for those who get a larger portion of their cardio via steady-state running, biking, etc.
- Deadlifts/Squats - Deadlifts and squats are sometimes referred to as the “king of exercises”. They target so many major and minor muscle groups in your body and are ideal for putting on lean muscle mass. The benefit of adding lean muscle mass to your body is the effect it has on your metabolism. Each pound of muscle will increase metabolism, thereby helping you burn exponentially more calories. Have you ever noticed that muscular and fit people seem to have fast metabolisms? It’s not a coincidence. While some may be blessed with a speedy metabolism, others have worked long and hard to build their calorie burning buddy.
- Intermittent Fasting – Intermittent fasting is the approach of including a 16-24 hour fast into your diet every few days, depending on your personal needs. Numerous studies have replicated the many health benefits of intermittent fasting, including its effect on abdominal fat. I encourage you to read up and talk to your doctor to determine if this lifestyle (it’s NOT a diet) is right for you. However, from personal experience and working with clients of all shapes and sizes over the years, I can tell you this has been the single most effective tool in the belly fat fight. Additionally, when combined with carb-less lunch and dinners once or twice a week, the effects have been even more beneficial.
- Body Diversity Training - BDT is the fitness philosophy I developed several years ago in an attempt to help the overwhelming number of clients who simply couldn’t make any more progress in the gym. Since then, this method has been changing the lives of my clients and blog readers alike. It shares elements of muscle confusion, but goes a step further in that not just exercises, weights, and reps/sets are changed, but the entire disciplines in which you train are constantly varied. Incorporating a wide variety of training methods, i.e. complex workouts, HIIT workouts, yoga, kickboxing, supersets, etc. has shown to be highly effective in helping people burn fat, build a healthy physique they can be proud of, and improve their overall health and well-being. I would suggest you check out the link above and read up on the benefits of this manner of training.
- Increased Fiber Intake – Increasing the fiber in your diet is something most everyone can stand to benefit from. This is another medical study backed claim (1) that has enormous implications. Not happy with you midsection? Start getting more fiber in your diet. Fiber acts to flush fat out of your body, not allowing it to find a home on your midsection. Eating an extra half of cup of beans, lentils, or whole grains a day could make a huge difference in the proportion of your belly fat over the next 6 months.
- Eliminate Sugar. Sugar, and other simple carbs, are great for spiking your insulin levels and causing a retention of, you guessed it…abdominal fat. Avoiding sugary drinks, subbing veggies for fruits here or there, and choosing complex carbs over simple, is key. When trying to lose belly fat, aim for no more than 15 grams of sugar per day. Cutting down on your overall carb intake, and replacing with veggies and lean protein is also a beneficial strategy. That said, don’t go on any crazy low-carb diets…you need something that you can adopt as a lifestyle change, not a quick-fix.
Again, these have been what I’ve found to be the 8 most powerful tools in fighting belly fat. There are certainly a plethora of ways to burn fat, but you want the most effective and efficient right? Well, these are them. Now, the next question you may have, is “how do I turn those 8 tips into a lifestyle change”? Lucky for you, the answer is very simply.
Let’s take a look at what I supplied you above and turn it into something practical you can start immediately.
Putting It All Together
I’m assuming you have access to a pool, if not, we’ll substitute ONE complex workout and ONE HIIT cardio session for the pool days.
- Day 1: Swimming. Also shoot to progressively add distance to your swims. Vary speeds, distances, and stroke for max benefit. If no pool access, follow a HIIT cardio session.
- Day 2: Metabolic Conditioning. Today’s workout is going to build your muscles while continuing to slash through excess calories. Extra points if you include core work during the circuit.
- Day 3: HIIT cardio. We’re back doing HIIT cardio again. Try mixing it up and doing bicycling if you did sprints on Day 1. If no access to a bike, don’t sweat it, just get out there and make sure you’re pushing yourself harder each time out.
- Day 4: Metabolic Conditioning. Today we’re going to do more intense training, but we’re going to include SQUATS and DEADLIFTS during our training. Consider even adding a few extra sets of these at the beginning or end of your workout to fully work the lower body muscles.
- Day 5: Swimming. Same as day 1, always try to improve times, distances, and stroke. If no pool, why not try adding a HIIT jump rope workout or something of the sort?
There we go, there’s a 5 day plan incorporating the best training methods we have for killing belly fat. Feeling extra motivated, feel free to add a 6th day…your choice of workout.
Now, what about the diet? Well, check this quick plan out..
- Day 1: Eat normally, have a carb-less lunch and dinner, go heavy on the veggies.
- Day 2: Eat normally, include extra half cup of beans/lentils/etc, last meal at 7pm.
- Day 3: Fast day, eat a regular dinner at 7pm this evening.
- Day 4: Eat normally, include extra half a cup of beans/lentils/etc.
- Day 5: Eat normally, have a carb-less lunch and dinner, go heavy on the veggies.
- Day 6: Eat normally, include extra half cup of beans/lentils/etc, last meal at 7pm.
- Day 7: Fast day, eat a regular dinner at 7pm this evening.
And there you go. That’s a quick and easy intermittent fast schedule which includes reduced carbohydrate intake a couple of days a week, and increased fiber 3 days a week. Over time, slowly adjust to adding more fiber daily, going heavier on veggies, and seeing what fasting schedule works best for you. Remember, you’re keeping an eye on your sugar intake every day, and opting for complex carbs over simple, whenever possible.
Hopefully this shows you how easy it is to fight against your belly fat. Sticking to a schedule like the one laid out above will no doubt help you reach your goals while improving your physique AND your health. So many people feel helpless in their fight against belly fat, but really all they need is a solid plan. This is the belly fat fighting plan that has worked for countless people before you, and will work for you too as long as you give it a fighting chance.