As a personal trainer and weight-loss coach, I am constantly answering health and fitness questions from my clients, on social media and in our Start TODAY Facebook group. In this column, I address some of the most common questions and roadblocks that trip people up on their journey to establish a health and fitness routine.
Is it possible to spot reduce weight around my midsection?
This is a question I hear quite often from my clients. For many, the tummy pooch is the area of the body they are most self-conscious about. I’m often asked if there are specific moves or types of exercise that help spot reduce weight around the midsection.
The short answer is no.
But while there are no magic moves you can perform to reduce weight in one specific area, there are some things you can focus on that will help you lose belly fat over time.
I recommend focusing on weight loss in general — knowing that overall weight loss will also lead to losing weight in the midsection.
It’s important to note that it’s impossible to talk about weight loss without addressing diet. Taking inventory of what you’re eating and replacing foods that provide empty calories like processed carbs and sugars with whole foods has helped many of my clients reduce bloat and shed extra pounds.
After you clean up your diet, turn your attention to your workout routine. Here’s where to focus your efforts when it comes to exercise to help reduce overall body fat and tone the midsection.
Endless crunches won’t do much if your abdominal muscles are buried under excess body fat. Cardio is key to burning calories and losing weight. Cycling and walking are two low-impact forms of cardio that I often recommend to clients. Walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise when it comes to burning calories and losing weight. In fact, many people in our Start TODAY Facebook group credit a daily walk with helping them lose weight and shed inches from their midsection! Riding a bike or using a cycling machine is another great calorie-burning exercise. When you cycle, you use your core and lower body while also increasing your heart rate. If you have access to a spin bike, try interval training by switching up the incline and speed. If you want to go on a bike ride outside, look for a path with hills and play with your speed for some variation.
Research shows that the combination of strength training and cardio exercise works well for weight loss. Strength training helps build muscle, which burn fats and speeds up the metabolism. Plus, muscle burns more calories than fat, so building muscle helps us burn more at rest, which will also help aid in weight loss. And many strength training exercises engage the core, which will help strengthen the abdominal area and increase muscle tone in the midsection. Try one of these strength routines for exercises that will build muscle and work the core:
Finally, target your core by incorporating exercises that tone and strengthen the abdominal muscles. Remember: The abs are the one muscle group you can train every single day!
As a Pilates instructor, I recommend starting every ab routine with a pelvic tilt. This exercise helps you get in tune with your core. By drawing your naval in toward your spine and engaging your deepest abdominal muscles, you’re training your body to work the core not only during ab moves, but also during other forms of exercise. Plus, tightening the core and engaging the deep abdominal muscles helps to flatten and tone the midsection.
I also recommend choosing ab workouts like mountain climbers that work the entire body, not just the abdominals. With full-body movements, you’ll burn more calories, which will help with weight loss and build strength in all areas of the body.