You’re not alone in wanting to trim your waistline. It’s especially important to keep your waistline slim and trim because visceral fat, the fat found deep within your belly, is particularly harmful to your health. Fortunately, you can slim your waistline without expensive gym equipment or infomercial abdominal exercise gadgets. The key is building strength in your core and melting away body fat with the right aerobic exercises.
The tried-and-true method of using steady-state exercise to burn fat does work, although it may take longer than other strategies. Steady-state exercise at a moderate intensity level for a long duration gets your body’s metabolism in the so-called fat burning zone, which burns the highest percentage of fat calories for energy. The fat burning zone occurs when your heart rate is between 55 to 65 percent of your maximal heart rate, or MHR. Your MHR is your age subtracted from 220.
Though virtually anyone, regardless of age or fitness level, can do steady-state exercise, the downside is that each workout is pretty lengthy – ideally, about 60 minutes per workout. If your joints can’t handle jogging, you could do a lower-impact alternative, such as walking at a brisk pace, inline skating or low-impact aerobics.
Sprint interval training, or SIT, takes aerobic exercise to the next level. It involves alternating short sprints with short rest periods. It’s a relatively short workout, but it’s very intense. Warm up with some walking or light jogging for about five minutes and follow with some light stretching. Next, sprint for 15 seconds and take a 45-second rest – simply rest or walk slowly to recover. After the rest period, sprint again for 15 seconds and rest again for 45 seconds. Continue this pattern for a total of 10 times. Don’t forget to cool-down and stretch for five minutes once you’re done. High-intensity interval training such as this will help reduce abdominal and subcutaneous fat. Additionally, by doing SIT, you’ll continue to burn body fat after the workout is done.
Training Abs the Right Way
Doing hundreds of basic crunches each day won’t burn belly fat and give you a slimmer waistline. However, an abdominal workout consisting of reverse crunches, vertical leg crunches and the bicycle maneuver may help tone and strengthen the abs for a leaner look that will be more evident after fat loss. Peter Francis, PhD, of the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University ranked these exercises as three of the most effective for stimulating the muscle tissue in your abdominal area.
For this workout, do each of these exercises 10 times in succession without taking any rest in between. Afterward, rest for about 90 seconds, and repeat the same cycle. Do a total of four cycles. Rest at least one day in between workouts to allow time for muscle recovery.
Tips for Success
You certainly don’t need gym equipment to trim your waistline, but there are several keys to success. Challenge yourself. If you don’t put in the effort and really push yourself to get in shape, it will probably never happen. Focus on technique. When doing an abdominal workout, use slow and controlled motions – feel your abs working. Use variety. Don’t do the same workout day after day. Your body will adapt to the same exercise, which can lead to fitness plateaus. To avoid this problem, do a different workout each day of the week. For example, do a SIT workout on Monday, an abdominal workout on Wednesday and a 60-minute jog on Friday. Then switch the order the following week. Follow these steps and expect to start losing fat within just three to six weeks.
- American Heart Association: Obesity Information
- Harvard Health: Abdominal Fat and What to do about It
- Built Lean: The Fat Burning Zone Myth -- Don’t Be Fooled
- American Council on Exercise: American Council on Exercise (ACE)-sponsored Study Reveals Best and Worst Abdominal Exercises
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate
- American Council on Exercise: High-Intensity Interval Training