A healthy, slim tummy is not impossible to obtain. If you're at the beginning of your weight loss trek, keep your focus on eating well and exercising plenty. As you near that stubborn plateau where weight becomes more difficult to lose and toning or sculpting certain body parts feels like pulling ex caliber out of a stone, don't worry. It's time to shake things up and hit the reset button. Adopt these helpful tips to lose weight and you'll begin to see and feel the changes within a week!
1. Every exercise is an ab exercise. If you think you're isolating a muscle group, think again. You use your core muscles to help you stabilize, lift, lower, coordinate, inhale and exhale, protect the lower back, cut, kick, shift, start, stop and everything in between. Without your abdominals, you'll have a heck of a time getting things done. Make sure you're engaging the core with every exercise, either by pulling the naval into the spine or tilting the pelvis forward; use it.
2. Use resistance. Add weight to your exercise routine, more than you're doing already. Try weighted sit-ups, Russian twists with a kettlebell, plates on your back during a plank, even cranking up the Stair Master will do the trick or try ball slams. Include body weight resistance, like pull-ups and pushups. In both of these exercises, you're relying on your core to keep the upper and lower body muscle groups in coordination. Remember, when you increase the weight, lower your reps until your muscles catch up.
3. Embrace cardio, burn fat. You could do a million crunches and still get better results with mixed cardio. Cardio burns fat, and fat likes to go into storage in the belly, thighs and buttocks for women. By initiating cardio, you're flipping on the fat-burning switch. You might actually have a very strong core, but you can't see it for yourself because it's covered by fatty tissue. Try a dance class, short runs or brisk walking a couple times a week to check this off the list.
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4. Change your workout routine. Getting a tight stomach isn't easy! It's time to shock the system. You might have a schedule that really suits your life, but apparently not your needs. Make sure you're mixing it up with different types of workouts. Incorporate a spin class, roller blading around the park with a friend, initiate lunch-time walks at work, utilize hills, stairs and tracks for intensity training and more. In addition, make sure your workouts include the following:
- Use correct form.
- Allow the body time to completely recover, or set up workouts for active recovery.
- Combine strength and cardio when you can.
5. When in doubt, Pilates. One of the top exercise practices for core strength is Pilates. It's not about how much you can lift, how fast you can do however many reps, but how well your body works as one. The core is the center of the body and it supports everything else. Sign up for a Pilates class at a reputable studio, and you'll quickly understand. This type of workout is also great for rehabilitation and muscle-specific strengthening. To get a quick dose, check out this Skinny Minute below with the Pilates sit up:
6. Ditch the sugar. You've been focused on calories, fat and protein as you scan food labels, but what you're probably skipping is the sugar level. Protein bars with 16 grams of sugar in them are a terrible idea. Do you know how much your go-to bar contains? In addition to checking the sugar content, look at how much fiber is in there. Fiber is often massed in with the "total carbohydrate" amount, so if fiber isn't listed, look there. The ratio should be about 10:1 (total carbs/fiber to sugar). Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar and pushes the digestion process along; in fact, fiber isn't absorbed or digested by the body at all.
When you eat extra sugar, your blood glucose levels spike and your body quickly reacts by getting rid of the excess sugar. How does it do that? It stores it in little tiny boxes called fat cells. Bottom line: more fiber, less sugar.
>> Read more: Decode Nutrition Labels