- 8 Ways to Lose Belly Fat and Live a Healthier Life
- The Truth About Belly Fat
- 6 Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat, Science
- The Fastest Way to Lose Belly Fat
- What Is Belly Fat?
- The Best Diet Plan to Lose Belly Fat
- The Best Exercise Plan to Lose Belly Fat
- The Best At-Home Workout Moves to Lose Belly Fat
- The Best Abs Exercises: Side Plank
- The Best Abs Exercises: Walkout to Push-Up (Inchworm)
- The Best Abs Exercises: Alligator Drag
8 Ways to Lose Belly Fat and Live a Healthier Life
Maintaining a trim midsection does more than make you look great—it canhelp you live longer. Larger waistlines are linked to a higher risk ofheart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Losing weight, especially bellyfat, also improvesblood vesselfunctioning and also improves sleep quality.
It’s impossible to target belly fat specifically when you diet. But losing weight overall will help shrink your waistline; more importantly, it will help reduce the dangerous layer of visceral fat, a type of fat within the abdominal cavity that you can’t see but that heightens health risks, says Kerry Stewart, Ed.D. , director of Clinical and Research Physiology at Johns Hopkins.
Here’s how to whittle down where it matters most.
When Johns Hopkins researchers compared the effects on the heart of losingweight through a low-carbohydrate diet versus a low-fat diet for sixmonths—each containing the same amount of calories—those on a low-carb dietlost an average of 10 pounds more than those on a low-fat diet—28.9 poundsversus 18.7 pounds.
An extra benefit of the low-carb diet is that itproduced a higher quality of weight loss, Stewart says. With weight loss,fat is reduced, but there is also often a loss of lean tissue (muscle),which is not desirable.
On both diets, there was a loss of about 2 to 3pounds of good lean tissue along with the fat, which means that the fatloss percentage was much higher on the low-carb diet.
Ultimately, you need to pick a healthy eating plan you can stick to,Stewart says. The benefit of a low-carb approach is that it simply involveslearning better food choices—no calorie-counting is necessary.
In general,a low-carb way of eating shifts your intake away from problem foods—thosehigh in carbs and sugar and without much fiber, bread, bagels andsodas—and toward high-fiber or high-protein choices, vegetables, beansand healthy meats.
Physical activity helps burn abdominal fat. “One of the biggest benefits ofexercise is that you get a lot of bang for your buck on body composition,”Stewart says.
Exercise seems to work off belly fat in particular because itreduces circulating levels ofinsulin—which would otherwise signal the body to hang on to fat—and causes theliver to use up fatty acids, especially those nearby visceral fat deposits,he says.
The amount of exercise you need for weight loss depends on your goals. Formost people, this can mean 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorousexercise nearly every day.
Adding even moderate strength training to aerobic exercise helps build leanmuscle mass, which causes you to burn more calories throughout the entireday, both at rest and during exercise.
Compare and contrast brands. Some yogurts, for example, boast that they’relow in fat, but they’re higher in carbs and added sugars than others,Stewart says. Foods gravy, mayonnaise, sauces and salad dressingsoften contain high amounts of fat and lots of calories.
The ingredients in packaged goods and snack foods are often heavy on transfats, added sugar and added salt or sodium—three things that make itdifficult to lose weight.
As you add muscle mass and lose fat, the reading on your bathroom scale maynot change much, but your pants will be looser. That’s a better mark ofprogress. Measured around, your waistline should be less than 35 inches ifyou’re a woman or less than 40 inches if you’re a man to reduce heart anddiabetes risks.
Research shows that you’re more apt to eat better and exercise more if yourfriends and family are doing the same.
Insulin (in-suh-lin): A hormone made by the cells in your pancreas. Insulinhelps your body store the glucose (sugar) from your meals. If you havediabetes and your pancreas is unable to make enough of this hormone, youmay be prescribed medicines to help your liver make more or make yourmuscles more sensitive to the available insulin. If these medicines are notenough, you may be prescribed insulin shots. Blood vessels (veh-suls): The system of flexible tubes—arteries,capillaries and veins—that carries blood through the body. Oxygen andnutrients are delivered by arteries to tiny, thin-walled capillaries thatfeed them to cells and pick up waste material, including carbon dioxide.Capillaries pass the waste to veins, which take the blood back to the heartand lungs, where carbon dioxide is let out through your breath as youexhale. Arteries (are-te-rease): The blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich bloodaway from your heart for delivery to every part of your body. Arteries look thin tubes or hoses. The walls are made of a tough outer layer, amiddle layer of muscle and a smooth inner wall that helps blood floweasily. The muscle layer expands and contracts to help blood move. Research Shows
A diet that’s low in fat and carbohydrates can improve artery function,according to a 2012 study by Johns Hopkins researchers. After six months,those on the low-carb diet had lost more weight, and at a faster pace.
Butin both groups, when weight was lost—and especially when belly fatshrank—the arteries were able to expand better, allowing blood to travel more freely. The studyshows that you don’t have to cut out all dietary fat to shrink belly fat.
For heart health, simply losing weight and exercising seems to be key.
The Truth About Belly Fat
From the WebMD Archives
Surprise: Everyone has some belly fat, even people who have flat abs.
That's normal. But too much belly fat can affect your health in a way that other fat doesn't.
Some of your fat is right under your skin. Other fat is deeper inside, around your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs.
It's that deeper fat — called “visceral” fat — that may be the bigger problem, even for thin people.
You need some visceral fat. It provides cushioning around your organs.
But if you have too much of it, you may be more ly to get high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer.
The fat doesn't just sit there. It's an active part of your body, making “lots of nasty substances,” says Kristen Hairston, MD, assistant professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Wake Forest School of Medicine.
If you gain too much weight, your body starts to store your fat in unusual places.
With increasing obesity, you have people whose regular areas to store fat are so full that the fat is deposited into the organs and around the heart, says Carol Shively, PhD, professor of pathology-comparative medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine.
The most precise way to determine how much visceral fat you have is to get a CT scan or MRI. But there's a much simpler, low-cost way to check.
Get a measuring tape, wrap it around your waist at your belly button, and check your girth. Do it while you're standing up, and make sure the tape measure is level.
For your health's sake, you want your waist size to be less than 35 inches if you're a woman and less than 40 inches if you're a man.
Having a “pear shape” — bigger hips and thighs — is considered safer than an “apple shape,” which describes a wider waistline.
“What we’re really pointing to with the apple versus pear,” Hairston says, “is that, if you have more abdominal fat, it’s probably an indicator that you have more visceral fat.”
Even if you're thin, you can still have too much visceral fat.
How much you have is partly about your genes, and partly about your lifestyle, especially how active you are.
Visceral fat s inactivity. In one study, thin people who watched their diets but didn't exercise were more ly to have too much visceral fat.
The key is to be active, no matter what size you are.
There are four keys to controlling belly fat: exercise, diet, sleep, and stress management.
1. Exercise: Vigorous exercise trims all your fat, including visceral fat.
Get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week. Walking counts, as long as it's brisk enough that you work up a sweat and breathe harder, with your heart rate faster than usual.
To get the same results in half the time, step up your pace and get vigorous exercise — jogging or walking. You'd need to do that for 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week.
Jog, if you're already fit, or walk briskly at an incline on a treadmill if you're not ready for jogging. Vigorous workouts on stationary bikes and elliptical or rowing machines are also effective, says Duke researcher Cris Slentz, PhD.
Moderate activity — raising your heart rate for 30 minutes at least three times per week — also helps. It slows down how much visceral fat you gain. But to torch visceral fat, your workouts may need to be stepped up.
“Rake leaves, walk, garden, go to Zumba, play soccer with your kids. It doesn’t have to be in the gym,” Hairston says.
If you are not active now, it's a good idea to check with your health care provider before starting a new fitness program.
2. Diet: There is no magic diet for belly fat. But when you lose weight on any diet, belly fat usually goes first.
Getting enough fiber can help. Hairston’s research shows that people who eat 10 grams of soluble fiber per day — without any other diet changes — build up less visceral fat over time than others. That’s as simple as eating two small apples, a cup of green peas, or a half-cup of pinto beans.
“Even if you kept everything else the same but switched to a higher-fiber bread, you might be able to better maintain your weight over time,” Hairston says.
3. Sleep: Getting the right amount of shut-eye helps. In one study, people who got 6 to 7 hours of sleep per night gained less visceral fat over 5 years compared to those who slept 5 or fewer hours per night or 8 or more hours per night. Sleep may not have been the only thing that mattered — but it was part of the picture.
4. Stress: Everyone has stress. How you handle it matters. The best things you can do include relaxing with friends and family, meditating, exercising to blow off steam, and getting counseling. That leaves you healthier and better prepared to make good choices for yourself.
“If you could only afford the time to do one of these things,” Shively says, “exercise probably has the most immediate benefits, because it gets at both obesity and stress.”
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Assessing your weight and health risk.”
Mayo Clinic Women’s Health Source, June 2011.
Dedert, E. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 2004.
Hairston, K. Obesity, published online June 16, 2011.
Hairston, K. Sleep, March 2010.
Heinrichs, M. Biological Psychiatry, Dec. 15, 2003.
Kilpeläinen, T. Nature Genetics, published online June 26, 2011.
Lewis, T. American Journal of Epidemiology, June 1, 2011.
Noble, R. Western Journal of Medicine, April 2001.
Slentz, C. American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism, published online Aug. 16, 2011.
Carol Shively, PhD, professor of pathology-comparative medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC.
Kristen Hairston, MD, MPH, assistant professor of endocrinology and metabolism, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC.
Tuomas Kilpeläinen, PhD, assistant professor, The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Copenhagen University; former epidemiologist, Institute of Metabolic Science, Medical Research Council, Cambridge, U.K.
Cris Slentz, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, Duke University, Durham, NC.
© 2011 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
6 Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat, Science
Losing abdominal fat, or belly fat, is a common weight loss goal.
Abdominal fat is a particularly harmful type. Research suggests strong links with diseases type 2 diabetes and heart disease (1).
For this reason, losing this fat can have significant benefits for your health and well-being.
You can measure your abdominal fat by measuring the circumference around your waist with a tape measure. Measures of above 40 inches (102 cm) in men and 35 inches (88 cm) in women are known as abdominal obesity (2).
Certain weight loss strategies can target the fat in the belly area more than other areas of the body.
Here are 6 evidence-based ways to lose belly fat.
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Foods with added sugars are bad for your health. Eating a lot of these types of food can cause weight gain.
Studies show that added sugar has uniquely harmful effects on metabolic health (3).
Numerous studies have indicated that excess sugar, mostly due to the large amounts of fructose, can lead to fat building up around your abdomen and liver (6).
Sugar is half glucose and half fructose. When you eat a lot of added sugar, the liver gets overloaded with fructose and is forced to turn it into fat (4, 5).
Some believe that this is the main process behind sugar's harmful effects on health. It increases abdominal fat and liver fat, which leads to insulin resistance and various metabolic problems (7).
Liquid sugar is worse in this regard. The brain doesn’t seem to register liquid calories in the same way as solid calories, so when you drink sugar-sweetened beverages, you end up eating more total calories (8, 9).
A study observed that children were 60% more ly to develop obesity with each additional daily serving of sugar-sweetened beverages (10).
Try minimizing the amount of sugar in your diet and consider completely eliminating sugary drinks. This includes sugar-sweetened beverages, sugary sodas, fruit juices, and various high sugar sports drinks.
Read the labels to make sure products do not contain refined sugars. Even foods marketed as health foods can contain significant amounts of sugar.
Keep in mind that none of this applies to whole fruit, which are extremely healthy and have plenty of fiber that mitigates the negative effects of fructose.
Summary Excess sugar consumption may be the primary driver of excess fat in the abdomen and liver. This is particularly true of sugary beverages soft drinks.
Protein may be the most important macronutrient for weight loss.
Research shows it can reduce cravings by 60%, boost metabolism by 80–100 calories per day, and help you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day (11, 12, 13, 14).
If weight loss is your goal, adding protein may be the single most effective change you can make to your diet.
Not only can protein help you to lose weight, but it may also help you to avoid regaining weight (15).
Protein may be particularly effective in reducing abdominal fat. One study showed that people who ate more and better protein had much less abdominal fat (16).
Another study indicated that protein was linked to a significantly reduced chance of abdominal fat gain over 5 years in women (17).
This study also linked refined carbs and oils to more abdominal fat and linked fruit and vegetables to reduced fat.
Many of the studies observing that protein helps with weight loss had people getting 25–30% of their calories from protein. Therefore, this may be a good range to try.
Try increasing your intake of high protein foods such as whole eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, meat, and dairy products. These are the best protein sources for your diet.
When following a vegetarian or vegan diet, check out this article on how to increase your protein intake.
If you struggle with getting enough protein in your diet, a quality protein supplement – whey protein — is a healthy and convenient way to boost your total intake. You can find plenty of protein powder options online.
Summary Eating plenty of protein can boost your metabolism and reduce hunger levels, making it a very effective way to lose weight. Several studies suggest that protein is particularly effective against abdominal fat.
Eating fewer carbs is a very effective way to lose fat.
This is supported by numerous studies. When people cut carbs, their appetite goes down and they lose weight (18).
More than 20 randomized controlled studies have now shown that low carb diets sometimes lead to 2–3 times more weight loss than low fat diets (19, 20, 21).
This is true even when those in the low carb groups are allowed to eat as much as they want, while those in the low fat groups are calorie restricted.
Low carb diets also lead to quick reductions in water weight, which gives people fast results. People often see a difference on the scale within 1–2 days.
Studies comparing low carb and low fat diets indicate that low carb eating specifically reduces fat in the abdomen and around the organs and liver (22, 23).
This means that some of the fat lost on a low carb diet is harmful abdominal fat.
Just avoiding the refined carbs — sugar, candy, and white bread — should be sufficient, especially if you keep your protein intake high.
If the goal is to lose weight fast, some people reduce their carb intake to 50 grams per day. This puts your body into ketosis, a state in which your body starts burning fats as its main fuel and appetite is reduced.
Low carb diets have many other health benefits besides just weight loss. For example, they can significantly improve health in people with type 2 diabetics (24).
Summary Studies have shown that cutting carbs is particularly effective at getting rid of the fat in the belly area, around the organs, and in the liver.
Dietary fiber is mostly indigestible plant matter.
Eating plenty of fiber can help with weight loss. However, the type of fiber is important.
It appears that mostly the soluble and viscous fibers have an effect on your weight. These are fibers that bind water and form a thick gel that “sits” in your gut (25).
This gel can dramatically slow the movement of food through your digestive system. It can also slow down the digestion and absorption of nutrients. The end result is a prolonged feeling of fullness and reduced appetite (26).
One review study found that an additional 14 grams of fiber per day were linked to a 10% decrease in calorie intake and weight loss of around 4.5 pounds (2 kg) over 4 months (27).
One 5-year study reported that eating 10 grams of soluble fiber per day was linked to a 3.7% reduction in the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity (28).
This implies that soluble fiber may be particularly effective at reducing harmful belly fat.
The best way to get more fiber is to eat a lot of plant foods, including vegetables and fruit. Legumes are also a good source, as well as some cereals, such as whole oats.
You can also try taking a fiber supplement glucomannan. This is one of the most viscous dietary fibers, and studies suggest it can help with weight loss (29, 30).
It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before introducing this or any supplement to your dietary regimen.
Summary There’s some evidence that soluble dietary fiber can lead to reduced amounts of belly fat. This should cause major improvements in metabolic health and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Exercise is among the best things you can do to increase your chances of living a long, healthy life and avoiding disease.
Helping to reduce abdominal fat is among the amazing health benefits of exercise.
This doesn’t mean doing abdominal exercises, as spot reduction — losing fat in one spot — is not possible. In one study, 6 weeks of training just the abdominal muscles had no measurable effect on waist circumference or the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity (31).
Weight training and cardiovascular exercise will reduce fat across the body.
Aerobic exercise — walking, running, and swimming — can allow major reductions in abdominal fat (32, 33).
Another study found that exercise completely prevented people from regaining abdominal fat after weight loss, implying that exercise is particularly important during weight maintenance (34).
Exercise also leads to reduced inflammation, lower blood sugar levels, and improvements in other metabolic problems associated with excess abdominal fat (35).
Summary Exercise can be very effective for reducing abdominal fat and providing many other health benefits.
Most people know that what you eat is important, but many don't know specifically what they’re eating.
A person might think they're eating a high protein or low carb diet, but without keeping track, it’s easy to overestimate or underestimate food intake.
Tracking food intake doesn't mean you need to weigh and measure everything you eat. Tracking intake every now and then for a few days in a row can help you realize the most important areas for change.
Planning ahead can help you achieve specific goals, such as boosting your protein intake to 25–30% of calories or cutting down on unhealthy carbs.
Check out these articles here for a calorie calculator and a list of free online tools and apps to track what you’re eating.
Abdominal fat, or belly fat, is linked to an increased risk of certain diseases.
Most people can reduce their abdominal fat through taking on key lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet packed with lean protein, vegetables and fruit, and legumes, and exercising regularly.
For more tips on weight loss, read about 26 evidence-based weight loss strategies here.
The Fastest Way to Lose Belly Fat
Although fat can be found in almost any part of your body, the kind that attaches itself to your middle can be the toughest to shed. And, unfortunately, as women age, the midsection increasingly becomes fat's destination of choice. “When a woman reaches her 40s, excess fat is ly to accumulate around the abdomen,” says Steven R. Smith, M.D.
, an obesity expert at Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes in Orlando, Florida. “This belly fat is often just a redistribution of fat to the abdomen rather than a gain in total fat.
” So even an average-sized woman may be chagrined to discover that, as her estrogen levels decline during perimenopause, it’s a struggle bus to lose belly fat.
“By losing estrogen, you lose some of the normal contours of your body,” explains Michael Roizen, M.D., chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. “Instead of weight settling on your hips, it goes to your belly.”
What Is Belly Fat?
Essentially, abdominal fat takes two major forms: subcutaneous fat (the visible kind just below the skin) and visceral fat (which is embedded deep within your abdomen and wraps around the organs clustered there).
Though the first kind of fat is easier to see, the latter kind poses the far greater health risk—and as a result is more important in your overall quest to lose belly fat. Weirdly, this fat is not always evident.
Even if you're not overweight, you still could be packing a lot of visceral fat. (Related: 7 Reasons You’re Not Losing Belly Fat)
Hidden or not, visceral fat does a real number on your health because of where it sits in the body. With fat, it's all about location, and each fat “depot” has a highly specialized function.
“We used to think all fat was created equal, that it was just a storage bin for excess calories,” says Elizabeth Ricanati, M.D., a consultant to the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.
“But that's not true.”
Fat, muscle, is now known to be metabolically active; it produces dozens of chemicals, including hormones that signal to the brain that someone is hungry or satisfied. “Indeed, we now think of fat tissue depots as endocrine organs,” says diabetes researcher Philipp Scherer, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Texas.
In other words, fat releases hormones that vary depending on where the fat is located. You may not be a big fan of the size of your thighs, but research suggests that the hormones produced there provide a health benefit.
“We don't know all the details, but it is clear that the fat in the hips, and particularly in the thighs, protects against some of the health consequences of obesity, such as diabetes, by producing substances that increase insulin sensitivity,” says Dr. Smith.
Visceral fat, on the other hand, is known to produce inflammatory agents that can, over time, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colorectal cancers. (These 15 foods might help combat that inflammation.)
The Best Diet Plan to Lose Belly Fat
So are belly fat and its attendant health problems inescapable side effects of aging? The answer is a qualified no. “It's never too late to lose belly fat,” says Jackie Keller, author of Body After Baby.
“But there's no easy fix.” However, while, sure there are some health risks associated with belly fat, there is a large problem with the way society is talking about belly fat in general, Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D.
previously told Shape.
The best way to lose belly fat is and to shrink fat cells overall is to lose weight. But make no mistake: belly fat is not easy to get rid of. Start by figuring out your current daily calorie intake. Then cut that number by one quarter.
Researchers from Columbia University found that simply reducing daily calories (without adding exercise) can shrink fat cells by up to 18 percent, particularly those in subcutaneous fat.
Health bonus? Fat shrinkage also improves the body's ability to use insulin, thereby guarding against diabetes.
Beyond counting calories, you can try the following strategies on how to lose belly fat and weight all at once.
- Balance the power. An ideal fat-burning meal plan includes 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrates, and 30 percent fat. Research has found that dieters who stuck to these ratios lose about 22 percent more belly fat after four months, and 38 percent more after a year, than those who follow a low-fat diet. Turn up the volume. Foods containing a lot of water and fiber (salads, vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, and whole-grain breads or pasta) expand in your stomach and make you feel full faster with fewer calories. (This is exactly the premise behind the volumetrics diet, BTW.)
- Stack the snacks. Eat small portions of healthy snacks three times a day. In research from Georgia State University, athletes who followed this pattern burned more fat and calories than those who waited for long periods to eat. (Related: Can Intermittent Fasting Help You Lose Belly Fat?)
- Go green. Research has found that women who drink about five cups of a beverage containing green tea each day, and include exercise in their routines, lose more belly fat than those who merely exercise. In addition to losing one inch around the waist, the tea drinkers decreased subcutaneous fat by 6 percent and visceral fat by 9 percent within 12 weeks. Researchers attributed the loss to catechin, an antioxidant in green tea.
- Fight fat with fat. It sounds counterintuitive, but a growing body of research suggests that a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (popularly dubbed MUFAs) keeps belly fat at bay. Among the most common foods containing MUFAs are olives, nuts, avocados, and the oils from these foods. (Here’s yet another reason to add more healthy fats to your menu.)
The Best Exercise Plan to Lose Belly Fat
Diet, of course, is only part of the answer on how to lose belly fat. Exercise, and the right type of it, is crucial to boosting your metabolism and shrinking both subcutaneous and visceral fat cells. If you're not working out regularly, now is the time to start, using these guidelines:
- Get off the couch. Going for a brisk 45-minute walk five times a week not only helps you lose flab but also has been shown to reduce the disease-causing inflammation in visceral fat. You should aim for a pace of three to four miles per hour. (Or try these effective walking workouts to lose belly fat!) Don't have that much time available all at once? According to trainers and other fitness experts, bouts of exercise as short as one minute each can still benefit your belly—as long as you log a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity a day. (Related: The 30 Greatest Flat-Belly Tips of All Time)
- Raise your rate. Increasing your heart rate to 80 percent of its maximum for 40 minutes can speed up your metabolism for 19 hours, scientists have discovered. To calculate this target heart rate, subtract your age from 220, then multiply by .80.
- Up the ante. Want even quicker results? Try an interval workout that alternates high- and low-intensity exercise. The powerful bursts of energy use more fat as fuel and the rest periods in between allow your body to flush out waste products from muscles. Bonus: High-intensity interval training may suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin. (Discover 8 more *major* benefits of HIIT.)
- Join the resistance. Why? Resistance training builds muscle, and more muscle means a faster metabolism. Aim to strength-train for at least 30 minutes two to three times a week and switch up lower- and upper-body exercises. Tip: Experts say that you lose more belly fat by lifting weights before your cardio workout. (Related: 11 Ways Lifting Weights is Amazing For Your Body)
The Best At-Home Workout Moves to Lose Belly Fat
File this under “best lose belly fat news ever:” You need not crunch to get the most effective abs workout. “Crunches work only the muscles on the front and sides of your abdomen, but it's important to target all the muscles of the core to get more defined abs—including lower back, hips, and upper thighs,” says Lou Schuler, co-author of The New Rules of Lifting for Abs.
To lose belly fat and uncover amazing abs, Schuler recommends a series of core stabilization exercises a training program devised by co-author and personal trainer Alwyn Cosgrove.
“Core exercises the plank help train muscles to stabilize the spine and pelvis so you can avoid back pain and improve posture, Schuler says. “Planks also burn more calories than crunches because they work more muscles.” (P.S.
Crawling is a great dynamic abs exercise too.)
Trade crunches for these three super-effective plank exercises from The New Rules of Lifting for Abs and you’ll be on your way to a stronger core and flatter stomach.
The Best Abs Exercises: Side Plank
Why it works: This move is more challenging than a traditional plank because you're supporting your entire body weight on two points of contact instead of four. As a result, you must work your core harder to stay stabilized.
How to do it:
A. Lie on your left side with your elbow directly beneath your shoulder and legs stacked. Place your right hand on your left shoulder or on your right hip.
B. Brace your abs and lift your hips off the floor until you're balancing on your forearm and feet so that your body forms a diagonal line. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. If you can't hold that long, stay up as long as you can and then repeat until you've held for 30 seconds total. Switch sides and repeat.
Make it harder:
More great stabilization exercises: The standard plank and the Paloff Press.
The Best Abs Exercises: Walkout to Push-Up (Inchworm)
Why it works: This advanced plank exercise involves full-body movement, such as using the arms and legs, while incorporating resistance to strengthen your entire core.
How to do it:
A. Start in standing position with hands two inches wider than your shoulders.
B. Walk hands out as far as possible, then walk back. Do 10-12 reps.
Make it harder: Do one push-up before you walk back to standing.
The Best Abs Exercises: Alligator Drag
Why it works: This plank uses your entire core to keep your body stabilized and burns additional calories by adding movement (dragging yourself along the floor). It mixes cardio, stability, and strength training to get you fast fat-burning results.
How to do it:
A. Find a stretch of floor that allows you to go forward 10 to 20 yards, and grab anything that will slide over the surface with minimal friction. Dinner plates or plastic bags work on a carpeted floor, while towels work on wood or tile.
B. Start in push-up position with your feet on the slides, towels, or plates.
C. Walk yourself forward with your hands to the end of your runway (aim for at least 10 yards). Rest for 60 to 90 seconds (or as long as you need to recover) and repeat the alligator walk back to where you started. That's one set. Repeat one more time.