Looking for a magic flat stomach workout for women that will get you swimsuit ready in three weeks? Unfortunately, it doesn't exist. In three weeks you can certainly make a good start toward reaching your goals, but slimming your waistline can take much longer than that.
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Flat Stomach Exercises for Women
Whether you have a little or a lot of tummy fat to lose, patience is key. Although the right diet and exercise plan can be very effective, it will take longer than three weeks — and in some cases much longer — to see results.
In order to lose belly fat, you have to get your body to start burning stored fat. To do this, you have to create a caloric deficit, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When you consume fewer calories than you burn on a regular basis, your body will start using stored fat for energy, and your fat cells will shrink.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Fat Loss
However, you can't target a certain part of your body for fat loss. When you lose total body fat, some of that fat will come from your midsection, but you may see fat loss in your face and arms before your stomach starts to slim down.
You also can't target your tummy for fat loss with specific abdominal exercises. You can do hundreds of crunches a day, but you won't see a flatter tummy until you burn total body fat. In fact, doing tons of ab exercises is a waste of your time when you're trying to lose fat.
You can make much better use of your precious time and see faster results by doing exercises that will burn the most body fat while you're doing them and boost your metabolism, even when you're not exercising. Here are a few flat stomach exercises for women when time is of the essence.
1. High-Intensity Exercise
The harder you work, the more calories you burn. So whatever you choose to do for exercise, do it vigorously. According to the Mayo Clinic, you'll know you're exercising vigorously if your breathing is deep and rapid when you're exercising. You should break into a sweat quite quickly, and you shouldn't be able to hold a conversation. When you're exercising intensely, you might be able to say a few words before needing to take a big breath.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, a 155-pound woman will burn 167 calories walking at a pace of 4 miles per hour for 30 minutes. But running at a pace of 6 miles per hour for 30 minutes can torch 372 calories — more than double the amount.
Keep in mind that high-intensity exercise will be different for everyone depending on your level of conditioning. Jogging might be high intensity for you, while someone else may need to run to feel like they are working out vigorously.
Read more: 20 Fat-Loss Secrets
2. High-Intensity Interval Training
Most people can't keep up very vigorous exercise for an extended amount of time. Interval training allows you to exercise at a high intensity for a period of time and then recover for a short period before repeating. This can allow you to do more total work in a session and burn more calories.
It's also more time efficient than steady-state cardio exercise and equally as effective as longer steady-state cardio workouts for burning abdominal fat, according to a small study involving 43 women with obesity, results of which were published in the Journal of Diabetes Research in January 2017. Try this quick cardio sprint workout on the treadmill:
- Warm up at an easy pace for five minutes.
- Increase your pace so you're working at about 80 to 90 percent of your max effort for 30 seconds to one minute.
- Reduce your pace to a fast walk or jog for one to two minutes, just enough to recover and feel ready to go into your next sprint.
- Increase your pace to a sprint for 30 seconds to one minute.
- Recover for one to two minutes.
- Repeat for a total of five to eight sprints.
- Cool down for five minutes.
3. Total-Body Strength Training
If you want to blast fat, you should definitely be doing strength-training exercises for your entire body. Building muscle can increase your resting metabolic rate so you burn more calories all day long, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Focus on compound exercises such as squats, lunges and push-ups, rather than isolation exercises such as biceps curls. These burn more calories while you're doing them, according to the American Council on Exercise. Challenge yourself by lifting heavier weights that make the last few reps of each set feel harder.
4. Circuit Strength Training + Cardio
Circuit training combines total-body strength training and cardio in one high-intensity, fat-blasting workout. If you've ever done a boot camp, you've done circuit training. By performing exercises at a high intensity back to back with little to no rest in between, you are building muscle while keeping your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time for max calorie burn.
To arrange your own circuit workout, pick several total-body compound exercises and do one set of each, moving to the next exercise without resting. Work in some cardio intervals, too — for example, jumping rope for one minute between exercises. When you get to the end of the round, repeat for two to four more rounds. Your total workout should last around 20 to 45 minutes, depending on how many exercises and rounds you do.
Read more: The "Burn Fat Faster" Workout
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Finding a Balance"
- Mayo Clinic: "Exercise Intensity: How to Measure It"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- Journal of Diabetes Research: "Comparable Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training and Prolonged Continuous Exercise Training on Abdominal Visceral Fat Reduction in Obese Young Women"
- Mayo Clinic: "Can I Boost My Metabolism to Lose Weight?"
- American Council on Exercise: "5 Benefits of Compound Exercises"