In an ideal world, the wave of a magic wand would transform troublesome body areas into toned and taut muscles. In reality, it is impossible to pick and choose where to lose weight. A well-rounded approach, through diet and exercise, is the only natural way to lose overall body fat. Incorporating compound exercises for the abs and chest into your workouts will help tone your muscles. The results will be evident after you reach a healthy weight. Always consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Eat less calories. The only way to lose weight is to consume less than you expend. Reduce your intake by 250 to 500 calories a day to encourage a healthy weight loss of one to two pounds a week.
Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Veggies and fruits contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fiber helps keep you full between meals.
Limit calorically empty foods, including chips, cookies, candy and soda, to 15 percent of your daily intake, per the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture. These foods don’t offer nutritional benefits, contribute to weight gain and stall weight loss.
Eat mostly whole grains, replacing white bread and white pasta with brown rice, quinoa, couscous, whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta.
Choose lean sources of protein, including beans, tofu, flank steak, chicken and fish. Include healthy fats in your diet, limit your intake of fatty meats and eliminate sources of trans fat. Examples of healthy fat include avocados, canola oil and olive oil. Fast food, packaged crackers and chips typically contain trans fat, so check before you eat them.
Do at least 150 minutes of moderately intense cardio each week. Increase your exercise to 300 minutes to accelerate weight loss. Rowing, cycling, running, sprinting, hiking and jumping rope are all forms of cardio.
Do two or three full-body strength training sessions each week. Include exercises for your legs, stomach, chest, arms, shoulders and back.
Challenge yourself with circuit training. Circuit training involves a series of resistance exercises with little rest between them. Circuits elevate heart rate and burn calories while providing cardio and strength training benefits. For example, jump rope for 30 seconds in between upper body exercises. Do jumping jacks in between lower body exercises.
Have a Ball
Do exercise ball pushups to strengthen your chest and stomach. Kneel behind an exercise ball.
Place your stomach on the exercise ball, roll onto it and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Walk your hands forward, stopping when only your legs remain on the ball. Place your hands under your shoulders, then widen them 2 inches.
Tighten your stomach muscles. Lower your chest toward the floor, flaring and bending your elbows as you drop. Stop before your chest touches the floor, straighten your arms and lift to the start position. Don’t drop your hips or lower your back during the pushups.
Throw Yourself Into It
Do the ball pass to tone your stomach and chest muscles. Sit on top of an exercise ball, place your feet on the floor in front of you and hold a weighted ball in your hands.
Straighten your back and tighten your stomach muscles. Place the ball in front of your chest and lift your elbows out to your sides, parallel to the floor. Lean back 45 degrees, stopping sooner if your back starts to arch. Go further if holding yourself at 45 degrees does not challenge your abs.
Pull your shoulder blades down and together. Throw the ball to your partner without dropping your arms or elbows. Catch the return pass in the same position and repeat 12 to 15 times. If you don’t have a partner, mimic throwing the movements without releasing the ball. You can also do this on the ground if you don’t have an exercise ball. The ball makes the exercise a little harder, creating more challenge for your abs.
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- United States Department of Agriculture: Eat Fewer Empty Calories
- ACE Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise