The older you get, the harder it becomes to lose the belly fat, but you probably already know that. As I’ve gone through my thirties I’ve found it harder and harder to keep the weight off, particularly my stomach. Too many chips and bottles of wine!
When I did the London Marathon a couple of years back, I went from 14 stone to 11st7Ibs in just 3 months and somehow got round the 26 miles in one piece! My stomach went from love handles to a quite impressive six pack in about 10 weeks! Not bad … obviously I was putting in quite a few miles of training during a lot of that time, but I know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to reducing your body fat and toning your body, which is more than what a lot of fitness trainers do!
In order to burn your excess stomach fat away, we need to start by destroying a lot of common misconceptions …
Myth No.1: Doing several hundred sit-ups or crunches every day will not give you a set of 6 pack abs.
Myth No. 2: Eating low calorie low fat processed foods will not help you either to develop your abs.
Myth No. 3: Going to the gym 7 day a week and doing the same program each time is a very ineffective way of reducing your body fat and toning your body. Yet so many fitness instructors insist on giving you a repetitive program to follow when you join a gym.
So what do you need to do to lose the belly fat if it’s none of the above?
Well, let’s start with diet. Try and eat as much natural produce as possible rather than processed foods, and it goes without saying, lose the takeaways. What you really need to do is cut your calorie intake to slightly below the number of calories you roughly burn each day. You don’t have to starve yourself, just control your intake, eat fruit and veg, basically eat a moderate balanced, nutritious diet. I always have a good breakfast to get my metabolism going in the morning ready for the day ahead. One great tip, is to always leave a little bit of your food on the plate, it’s a great way to stop over eating.
Next you need to think about cardio exercise to burn some calories. I personally don’t believe you can beat running. At the end of the day modern gyms are full of all kinds of fancy cardio machines, but in my experience nothing burns more calories than straight forward running.
But here is an important point. Don’t just go and do the same treadmill work out each time you go to the gym. Alternate between longer slower runs that burn a lot of calories, to shorter faster runs that really get your heart pounding. Try interval running where you go fast for 3 minutes and slow for 2 minutes repeatedly. Try running on inclines too. Basically vary your running to stimulate your body in different ways, to boost your metabolic rate.
Now for weight training. I can build defined muscles pretty quickly, my wife is constantly amazed at how I can go from having love handles to a toned body in just a few weeks. What’s my secret? I only use weights once a week, certainly no less than every five days. Most people I see in gyms use the weights three to four times a week. It’s crazy! When you lift heavy weights you break down the muscle tissue, and it grows back stronger, but the process takes several days. By lifting frequently, the muscle never repairs or gets stronger!
So only workout with weights every 5 – 7 days. But when you do, lift with intensity. Don’t do 4 sets of 20 reps with light weights. Instead do 2 – 3 sets of 6 – 8 reps with the heaviest weight you can manage. Target the largest muscle groups first, then work to your smaller muscle groups last. The larger muscle groups will boost your metabolic rate the most, and therefore burn more calories. Muscles burn calories, so the bigger muscles such as chest and shoulders will help reduce your overall body fat the most. At the end of your weights routine, work the abs. Do small quantities of crunches, but do then with a weight on your chest to really work the abs. If you do leg raises, do them clasping a weight between your feet to add intensity.
So there is my advice on how to lose the body fat. Eat a balanced, nutritious diet, do lots of running and use weekly intense weight training.
A lot of what I’ve learnt comes from what is easily the best guide to burning stomach fat on the net. It goes in to a lot of detail on diet, which is the most important aspect of losing belly fat, and then focuses on several specific high intensity workouts for really defined abs.
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