Countless people want to trim fat, fit back into their favorite pair of jeans or feel confident taking their shirt off. But trimming your waistline is more important than only these goals. Visceral fat, the fat found deep within your belly, is particularly harmful to your health.
With proper exercise, you can slim your waistline and rid yourself of this deep belly fat. And here’s the best part — you don’t need expensive gym equipment or that weird gadget you saw on an infomercial last night.
The key to a trim waist is shedding body fat and building strength in your core with the right exercises.
Old Faithful: Steady-State Exercise
Moderate-intensity, steady-state exercise, such as walking, is an excellent form of exercise that just about anyone can do. It doesn’t matter your age or fitness level, steady-state exercise can help you lose fat and trim your waist. You don't have to jog, either. Low-impact exercises such as brisk walking, dancing or swimming can all work.
But low-impact, moderate effort may not be the most efficient strategy. For years, moderate intensity exercise over a long duration was the king of fat loss. This was based on a “fat burning zone” that has been shown to be less effective than other training modalities.
Ideally, moderate-intensity steady-state workouts should be around 45–60 minutes on most days of the week to budge belly fat.
The Hipster: High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, takes aerobic exercise and fat loss to the next level. One of the simplest and most effective ways to do it is with sprinting. A sprint workout is relatively short, but it’s intense. Don’t neglect warming up with a few minutes of light jogging, followed by some bodyweight exercises like squats, push ups and lunges.
For the workout, sprint for 15 seconds, then rest for 45 seconds. Repeat this sprint/rest interval six to 10 times -- depending on your fitness level. After your intervals, cool down and stretch for a few minutes.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is popular because it’s an extremely effective strategy to shed fat. Due to the high intensity of HIIT, your body is in an oxygen deficit, triggering what's known as excess post-oxygen consumption (EPOC).
According to some research, high intensity interval training leaves your body exhausted and up-regulating the intake of oxygen for up to 24 hours after the completion of exercise. During this time, your metabolism stays elevated, helping you burn more body fat.
The Better Way to Train Your Abs
The bad news is that hundreds upon hundreds of crunches won’t burn belly fat, give you a slimmer waistline or reveal a six pack. But here’s the good news: other exercises can help develop a stronger midsection that’ll look impressive once you’ve lost fat.
Peter Francis from the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University ranked reverse crunches, vertical leg crunches and the bicycle maneuver as the most effective exercises for stimulating the muscles of the abdomen.
Perform 10 reps of each exercise in a non-stop, circuit-like fashion. After one continuous round, rest for about 90 seconds. Repeat until you’ve done a total of four rounds.
Tips for Waist-Trimming Success
There are several different ways to trim your waistline—with or without equipment. Remember that success lies in ruthless execution of the basics. Beyond following the exercises listed above, it's important to eat a well balanced diet focused on creating a caloric deficit to lose fat.
There are different tools and formulas that track your calories, such as Livestrong's MyPlate. To determine your calorie needs for weight loss, simply enter your age, current weight, weight-loss goal, height and gender, and your needs are determined in seconds. Between the exercises in this article and the dietary advice of MyPlate, you'll have both the fat loss exercise and diet to trim your waistline.