Fit Tips | Top Moves for a Flatter Stomach

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fit tips

Looking for a new way to revitalize your fitness routine? Seeking ways to live a healthier lifestyle? Check back often for current health and wellness tips from Ivy Fitness Club's personal trainers and fitness instructors to keep you motivated.

The top two moves for a flatter stomach

In honor of swimsuit season, every fitness magazine on the planet is offering the newest and greatest ab routines, and it’s no wonder. As a personal trainer, the most common question I get is: "What ab exercises should I do to get rid of this belly fat, spare tire, love handles, or (fill in your own trouble spot)?" The answer comes as a surprise to most people:

The right amount and intensity of cardio, and a well-balanced, challenging strength training program... oh, and the really tough one - following a balanced diet that is fewer in calories than what your body burns each day. The fitness magazines often don’t tell you that, because they need to sell magazines, and people who buy fitness magazines do not often want the cold, hard truth about weight loss: It takes true lifestyle change, not just following today’s crazy, gimmicky diet plan (see Cookie Diet, Master Cleanse, Cabbage Soup Diet, etc, etc) in order to lose weight permanently and improve your health.

Pretty much everybody has read by now that you can't "spot tone" the part of your body that you’re not happy with. Doing crunch after crunch after crunch, no matter whether it’s on a ball, on a machine, on the floor, or hanging upside down, will not get you the flat stomach you desire. In fact, the opposite often happens. Overworking the abdominals without attention to form and variety will most times result in bulkier abs that lack true strength and stability. But people hold out desperately for an easy answer - if only there were a few simple moves that would get rid of that frustrating belly fat.

I'll focus on the cardio component because it is what I find most people do the most often, with the least amount of understanding. What do I mean by the right amount and intensity of cardio?

A properly designed cardio program will teach your body to be aerobically efficient. And why should you care about that? Because an aerobically efficient cardio system, will turn your body into a fat-burning machine.

Consider this: Would you walk into the gym, head on over to the bench press, and pick any random weight to lift? Say, oh, why not, 250 lbs? You want to get strong and burn calories, right? Sounds crazy, but this is what you do every time you go out for a run, or a cycle, or a row (you get the picture) with no structured program or understanding of your body's cardiovascular system.

Here are some tips to follow to make sure you don't make this common mistake:

  • Start off slow. Don’t be afraid to walk!
  • Use the buddy system - You're more likely to exercise more often and for more time when it’s fun and social.
  • Avoid exercising with somebody who is more advanced than you are. It might lead you to work harder than your body is ready for. Find a friend who is at your level.
  • Include variety, both in what you do, and how intensely you work.
  • When you’re ready to take it to the next level, do it by throwing in small bursts of speed. For instance 1 minute of jogging for every 4-5 minutes of walking.
  • Use a Heart Rate Monitor. It will give you constant feedback on how hard your body is working. Are you just feeling lazy and need to push it a little, or does your body really need a break? The HRM will tell you the truth.
  • Plan ahead! By setting yourself a schedule, you’ll be more likely to actually do the number of workouts you need, and will help you use your limited time more efficiently.
  • Use a personal trainer to take your cardiovascular training to the next level. They're not just for weight workouts anymore!

Here's to your inner fat-burning machine! It's just waiting to be let out.
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Nicola is a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor at Ivy Fitness Club.

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