Exercises for a Flat Belly, and Thin Legs and Arms

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An intense, full-body circuit gets you the body you want. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

You want to thin out your limbs and flatten your belly. Sticking to a portion-controlled, mostly whole-foods diet helps you lose weight to slim down your whole physique, including these trouble areas. Add the right exercises to promote fat burning and toning for the arms, legs and belly.

No targeted move will burn fat off your arms, legs or belly, but cardio and strength training helps you lose fat so you become leaner. Don't shy away from weights, either, for fear they'll build bulk, rather than thin you out. Strength-training is a powerful metabolic stimulant that helps you burn more calories and lose fat.

Cardio Work Plan

Cardio activity is more likely to help you get a flat tummy and thin arms and legs than targeted arm circles, leg lifts and crunches. It helps you create a caloric deficit so that when your body senses it doesn't have enough calories to fuel your activity it reaches into your fat stores.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per day, most days of the week. To lose significant weight, however, aim for 45 to 60 minutes on most days says the American College of Sports Medicine.

While any cardio that gets your heart pumping will help you lose weight, go for one that directly benefits your belly, arms and legs. Options include:

  • hiking on an incline
  • running or jogging
  • rowing on an ergometer
  • pedaling an elliptical trainer with arm poles

Vary the type you use to keep up the challenge and burn maximum calories. If your body becomes accustomed to one exercise, you'll become efficient and burn fewer calories.

An Arms, Legs and Abs Circuit

You could spend hours at the gym, doing multiple, individual moves for your arms, legs and abs. Or, make the most of your strength-training time by choosing exercises that combine arm, leg and ab muscles in one workout. Bonus: You also work other major muscle groups to create a lean, lithe physique.

Perform each of the following exercises as a circuit. Do each move for 60 seconds and quickly transition to the next, with just enough of a break to change equipment. Rest for one minute and then repeat the circuit two more times. Plan to do this workout on non-consecutive days two or three times per week, such as Tuesday/Thursday or Monday/Wednesday/Friday.

1. Reverse Table Leg Lifts with Triceps Dips

HOW TO DO IT: Sit with your knees bent and feet flat in the floor. Place your hands behind your bum about 3 to 6 inches, fingers facing your feet. Draw your abs into your spine and lift your hips up so you form a table with your torso. Keep your hands under your shoulders and feet under your knees.

Bend your elbows to perform a triceps dip. Rise back up. Lift your right leg straight to the ceiling and lower. Repeat with the left leg. Do this combination for the whole minute.

2. Dumbbell Side Lunge with Bicep Curls

HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand alongside your hips. Lunge to the right with the right leg. Bend the right knee and keep your left leg straight.

Toes on both feet face forward. Simultaneously curl the dumbbells up toward your shoulders. Step back to center as you straighten your arms back along your sides. Repeat on the left side. Continue to alternate for the entire minute.

3. Bridge with Triceps Extensions

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet planted and hip-distance apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Lift your hips to form a "bridge" from your knees to your shoulders.

With your hips lifted, straighten your elbows to raise the dumbbells over your shoulders. Bend and extend your elbows so that the weight comes near your forehead.

Tip

Keep your hips lifted for the whole minute. When you bend your elbows, they should point straight up to the ceiling.

4. Push-Up with Knee In

HOW TO DO IT: Get into a push-up position balanced on your hands and toes. Hands are slightly wider than your shoulders and feet are hip distance apart. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle.

Straighten the elbows and pull your right knee in to your right elbow. Return the foot to the floor for support. Do another push-up, rise and pull the left knee in to the left elbow. Alternate the moves for the whole minute.

5. Plie Squats with Overhead Triceps

HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet wider than your hips. Hold one dumbbell in both hands. Extend your arms overhead. Bend your knees into a plie squat; they should be over your heels. If not, open your feet wider.

As you do the squat, also bend your elbows so the weight comes behind your head for a triceps extension. Straighten the elbows and the knees back to the starting position.

Tip

If you really want to feel the burn, add a minute of cardio between the exercises in the circuit. Examples include jumping jacks, a quick sprint on the treadmill, jump lunges or burpees.

You'll be doing a form of interval training, which helps sizzle fat and slim you down efficiently. It also gets you into great shape.

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