Is it possible to burn off those "whoops" calories from the handful of cookies or that cheesy heap of mac you couldn't resist before bed? That would be more than awesome. Biologically, you never stop burning calories. Your body is in constant need of fuel to process all of the regulatory functions, like the maintaining your cardiovascular system, making cell repairs and continuing the work of your digestive system.
The problem with this is that you could be taking in too many calories to even make a difference. It's a simple equation: Energy in minus energy out equals calories burned, also known as the accumulation of weight loss. If you want your body to burn more calories than usual (the body doesn't need much while you sleep), you need to direct it to do so. Any time you can add some cardio into your evening, ideally a couple hours before you hit the hay, that will certainly help attack belly fat. Otherwise, add in a few of these exercises and stretches before bed to help guide your body into bigger burns — and you won't even need to put on a sports bra.
1. Plié Squat: Signal your inner ballerina for an intensifying leg move. All you need to do is drop into the plié and hold it. Tuck the pelvis forward and engage the core. Use your breathing to get you through 30 to 60 seconds of the isometric hold. You'll feel those muscles quickly heat up! Release, shake it out and go for it two more times. Check it out here.
2. Boxer Slide: While you're in the plié position, tuck your arms into the body and activate the obliques. Stay rooted through the legs and hips, but slide the torso side to side, exhaling each time. The motion and breathing will help release metabolic waste while the low squat pushes the body to make more ATP, triggering a fat burning response. Try doing this one for 20 reps, three sets. See more about it here.
3. Curtsy Lunge and Squat: Working the lower body really motivates the internal working systems to go into high gear. Stay low as you curtsy to either side, squatting in between. Try to go at a solid pace for 30 seconds, break for 30 more and repeat until 5 minutes have passed. Learn more about the move here.
4. Bridge Lifts: There are so many variations of the bridge lift, a move that targets the butt and thighs, which are the biggest muscles in your body (that means more calories needed for cell repairs!). Stick with the basic version of straight up and down lifts, driving through the heels and squeezing the glutes to rise. You can also follow along with Real Mom Model Jean as she incorporates an inner thigh squeeze at the top of the lift using a ring (try a ball or pillow). Bookmark the basic version here.
5. Plank: The most functional core exercise is the plank, whether on your knees or toes, hands or elbows. You suspend your entire body weight between two points using the strength of your abdominals and lats to hold it. Holding it here will encourage the tummy muscles to work, work, work, which means you'll be burning calories right at that moment and afterward as the body recovers. Double check your positioning on the plank here.
6. Chaturanga to Up Dog: This basic yoga flow is excellent for targeting the entire body. Get into your high plank, push the hips up and back into downward dog, then dip the chest while you bend your elbows and send the head through the arms, like a turtle coming of of the shell. Push yourself up into upward facing dog and then repeat immediately shifting in to downward dog. You use the triceps, core, glutes and upper back to make it happen. See more of a play-by-play here.
7. Starfish Abs: There is new research showing that you might be able to target specific fat storage areas like on the belly, so why not go for the entire core? Focus on peeling the shoulder blade off the floor as you reach up and over to toward the opposite legs. You might also know this move as alternating toe touches. Go ahead and get your 60 seconds in right now with Skinny Mom founder, Brooke Griffin, or favorite this move here.
8. Seated Cat Cow: Keep it simple, sweetie. Sit down and lift the chest as you move back and forth between the cat and cow poses. Close your eyes and really focus on how you're breathing. This will help the cardiovascular system moving at a daytime pace while releasing any tension in the back so your body can release that stress and focus on other areas. Get more on it here.
9. Three Legged Dog to Knee Tuck: Similar to the chaturanga flow, this forward-backward motion relies on heavily on the core and your breathing. If you breathe properly through this exercise, exhaling as you tuck the knee and inhaling as you lift, you can move more blood through the body. It will encourage your metabolism to step it up a notch when it's used to actually slowing down at this time. Get more details on it here.
10. Chair Pose: This traditional yoga pose is wonderful for before bed or right as you're waking up. The idea of this position is to align the body to quickly warm up the muscles and improve breath control. If you can raise your arms to continue the angle of your torso, do so, and look up toward the ceiling, breathing deeply. Pull the shoulder blades together, the naval into the spine and sit into your heels. Get more tips on getting into this pose here.
Disclaimer: The content of the Skinny Mom blog and website, including text, graphics and images, are for informational purposes only. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have. Do not disregard professional medical advice. Not all exercises are suitable for everyone.