You have anew gym membership, and you're pretty excited about digging in to the class offerings. Right now your main goal is getting rid of some belly fat, and then you're going to get ripped. Sounds like a great plan. To implement it, look for gym classes that are high-intensity or involve high-intensity interval training.
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Any type of cardio exercise that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat will help you burn belly fat. Belly fat build up is primarily due to eating more calories than your body burns for energy. The calories are stored as fat and, if you're like many people, your fat tends to park itself around your midsection.
The more calories you burn in a class, the more belly fat you'll burn and the sooner you'll see your waistline shrink — as long as you eat a healthy diet. Look for classes that are very active, involve a lot of movement, jumping, kicking, punching or sprinting. These classes are going to give you the most bang for your buck.
Classes that involve strength training, either via weightlifting or doing body weight moves like push-ups and squats, along with intense cardio are also very effective. Building muscle helps rev your metabolism, which in the long run will help you keep belly fat at bay.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Exercise in which you work at a very high intensity for a short period of time, then recover at a lower intensity — and repeat — is the most effective means of targeting belly fat. According to research published in Journal of Obesity in 2011, HIIT-style workouts are better at burning belly fat — and total body fat — than other types of workouts that keep your heart rate steady throughout.
Read more: 5 Myths About HIIT
Classes to Try
All gyms offer different classes, so your choices will be specific to your location. Some gyms may have proprietary classes and others may offer universally recognizable or nationally/internationally branded classes.
Obviously, any class with the words "high intensity" or "HIIT" in the name will meet your needs. Although, ultimately, the effectiveness of the class depends on your instructor's plan and how hard you're prepared to work.
Some classes that are universally recognizable that are typically high intensity or include intervals:
Cardio kickboxing: A fast-paced class that combines intense cardio with martial arts moves.
Insanity: This class lives up to its name with intense cardio, plyometrics and other body weight strength-training moves.
Boot camp: Be prepared to work in this military-inspired class with intervals of heart-pumping cardio and strength exercises.
Spinning: This is no ride in the park. You'll peddle it out on special stationary bikes, lead by an instructor up and down hills and at varying speeds.
Plenty of other classes may be high-intensity or offer a HIIT-style portion of class. For example, some dance classes may be very intense while you're performing choreography, and then may slow down while you're learning steps.
Zumba can be more moderate or more challenging, depending on the level of the class and the instructor's teaching style. It's entirely possible that a Zumba class could involve periods of intense activity, followed by more moderate activity.
Even some types of power vinyasa yoga classes incorporate elements of HIIT workouts.
If you're unsure whether a class is high-intensity or offers intervals, ask the instructor or anyone at the front desk of your gym. Then, go try it out. It never hurts to ask or try something new.