Belly fat not only keeps you from feeling confident in a swimsuit, but also has an even more sinister side: It seriously endangers your health. An abundance of visceral, or internal, belly fat raises your levels of inflammation and increases your risk of certain diseases, including type 2 diabetes, some cancers and heart disease.
Exercise is a good remedy for belly fat, but ab-specific exercises aren't enough. Adopting an overall more physically active lifestyle and regularly fitting in cardiovascular and strength-training during your week is the key to dropping the bulge.
In come resistance bands, which you can use as a circuit training tool to burn calories so you lose fat and build muscle all over that improves your overall body composition. Better yet, resistance bands increase the firming power of abdominal exercises so that when the belly fat melts away you reveal a tight, taut midsection.
Resistance bands are stretchy lengths of latex that offer an additional challenge to your muscles. Choose bands that are tubular and have handles or those that are swaths of flat, stretchy rubber; either will do for these exercises.
Resistance bands come in color-coded levels. The color's intensity depends on the brand, but will range from low resistance, similar to that provided by a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell, to high resistance, similar to a 20-pound dumbbell.
You want to lose fat at your belly, but target training is a myth — you simply can't crunch that fat away. You must create an energy deficit so your body uses your stored fat. Do this by eating fewer calories and moving more. Ab-specific exercises don't generally burn a ton of calories because they're pretty isolated -- you need moves that make your whole body work.
Use the resistance band for this by making it part of a cardio circuit. Do the following exercises for 1 minute at a time, leaving no break between them. Repeat the circuit a total of three rounds; giving yourself a 1-minute break between each round. Warm up with 5 minutes of marching in place or riding a stationary bike.
Football Run: Lay the band on the floor, straddle it with wide feet and run in place as quickly as you can. Pump your arms as you move your feet.
Side Jump: Bring both feet to one side of the band and quickly hop to the other. Keep hopping side to side for the whole circuit.
Power Leaps: Hold one end of the band in each hand. Raise your arms overhead and stretch the band until it feels taut. Hold this activated band as you leap forward with both feet as far as you can and jog back to the start. Repeat the leaps for the whole minute.
Monkey Feet: Lay the band back on the floor and face it. Quick step your right foot over it, then the left. Then, quick step backward over the band. Repeat going forward and back as fast as you can for the whole minute.
Single-Leg Hops: Hop over the band with just your right foot for 30 seconds; switch to just your left foot for 30 seconds.
Do this tough circuit two or three times per week. On other days, supplement your calorie-burning efforts with at least 30 minutes of a brisk walk, dance class, light jog or bike ride.
Build Some Muscle
A muscular body burns calories more effectively than one that has a greater proportion of fat. Use a resistance band to help you shift your body composition so that you lose fat, especially at your belly. Do the following moves two to three times per week on non-consecutive days. Aim for eight to 12 reps of each move using a band that makes the last few efforts quite challenging.
Lat Pull-Down: Hold one end of the band in each hand and extend your arms overhead. Choke up on the resistance to create tension. Draw the band down in front of your nose, bending your elbows and pulling the band tighter as you lower. Release back up to complete one rep.
Chest Press: Hook the band around the back of an armless chair. Sit in the chair and hold one end of the band in each hand at your chest. Push forward with your arms to create a tense chest press and release.
Biceps Curls: Stand on the center of the band with one or both feet. Hold one side of the band in each hand, arms alongside your hips. Curl up to your shoulders and lower back down.
Shoulder Press: Stand on the band and hold one end of the band in the right hand. Starting with your right hand at your shoulder, extend the arm up and down. Do another eight to 12 reps with the left arm.
Squats: Stand on the band, cross the handles and hold one in each hand. Bend and extend your knees and hips to perform a squat. Hold the band taut to provide resistance.
Your target area is your belly, so address it with specific moves, too. You'll help develop muscle there and firm up the jiggle.
Moving against resistance while planking forces your stabilizing muscles to go into overdrive.
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart in the center of the band. Cross it and hold one end in each hand.
Crouch down into a push-up position, keeping the band around your feet and in your hands.
Keep your palms planted and draw your abs into your spine. Push your hips back toward your heels so that the knees hover just above the floor.
Straighten your body back into the push-up position. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
Work your side ab muscles with this exercise that also targets your shoulders, back and arms.
Stand on the center of a resistance band with your feet hip-distance apart. Cross the band and grab one end in each hand.
Bend your knees a little into a half squat and bring your hands and the resistance band ends together in front of you. Keep your elbows bent slightly.
Pull the resistance band up and over your right shoulder as you twist your torso to the right. Pivot slightly on your left toe and straighten your legs. Return to the half squat and repeat eight times; then do all the reps to the left.
The Paloff press is the quintessential anti-rotation move. You work your abs in the most functional way possible -- by forcing them to keep your torso stable.
Loop the resistance band around a sturdy pole or object at shoulder height. The frame of a cable machine is a good option.
Grab both ends of the band and step away from the anchor point until you feel tension on the band. Hold both ends in the center of your chest, plant your feet hip-distance and stand sideways to the anchor point.
Press the band forward, resisting the urge to rotate toward the band, and pull it back to your chest. Perform eight to 12 repetitions facing one direction and repeat facing the opposite direction.