Toning your lower stomach is easier than you might think – and it doesn’t involve doing a million crunches a day, either. For one thing, when your body’s burning fat it tends to do so indiscriminately, so you’ll typically notice changes in your face, thighs, hips and chest, not just your abs. Moreover, it is impossible to target fat loss in a specific area by just doing one exercise over and over. What you’ll want to do is combine cardio, strength training, diet and relaxation over an extended period of time in order to minimize your tummy.
Hop on the treadmill… or stationary bike, or elliptical, or whatever cardio machine you find works for you. You don’t even have to have a gym membership to tap into the fat-burning powers of cardiovascular exercise – a brisk walk, jog or bike ride will also do the trick. Three to five times a week, for at least thirty minutes, is optimal. You’ll lose inches everywhere, including your abs!
Break out the barbells. Anaerobic exercise, or strength training, is a great way to help achieve the level of toning you want for your tummy. When combined with cardio exercise, in fact, it becomes a force to be reckoned with. Building lean muscle also promotes higher metabolism and a higher rate of fat burning. At the gym, try exercise machines that will make use of your arms, legs, and abs, or free weights. (Make sure to pace yourself and start with smaller weights, gradually working your way up over the weeks and months.) At home you can do leg lifts – where you lay on the floor with your legs straight out and your arms at your sides, and slowly lift your legs into the air and hold them – as well as pushups and crunches.
If you’re a woman and you worry about looking “big” or “unnatural” as a result of working out, not to worry. I regularly lifted weights for two years and never found myself looking this way. This is because female bodies simply don’t have the capacity to become as muscular as a man’s.
Eat right. This is tough to do, but extremely important. A clean diet includes only a minimal amount of carbs (and none at night); sugar (excess sugar is stored as fat); lots of protein like eggs, tuna and chicken; high amounts of fiber and organic, not processed, food; supplements and multivitamins; and plenty of water. Recommended carbs to eat are those found in brown rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and whole grains.
Sit up! Sometimes slouching helps contribute to the appearance of extra fat around your abs, by making your stomach slightly stick out. If you’ve faithfully incorporated all of the above tips into your diet/exercise regime and your abs still don’t improve, extra body fat may not be the problem. Make an effort to sit up straight when using the computer, watching television, or sitting down for a meal. Pilates also helps address poor posture.
Relax! Stress is one of the biggest reasons why we gain weight – or keep it. Yoga, a hot bath, a full-body massage, or a visit to the spa may be just the thing for when you’re feeling on edge and can’t seem to shed those final stubborn pounds.
Come and check out our leg workouts blog.