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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown
Nutritionist

Janet Aylott
Nutritionist

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant

Q.

What exercises can I do to reduce the size of my waist?

Hi, I am losing weight (so the scales say) however my whole life most of my weight is around my middle area, I have what I can only describe as a pregnancy belly and also a large band of weight below my belly button. I've been taking measurements of this area for the past 3 months and none of the weight is coming off around the middle, are there any exercises that I can do to help this area become flattened? Thanks

A.

Our expert says...

Hi,

The “most effective” type of exercise to target the middle tummy area is the type that is done consistently! Apart from that, there is no 'best' exercise for dropping body fat from a specific area, it is more a combination of burning calories from regular exercise and using effective toning exercises for the whole body including the stomach region.

To further define the best approach in more detail please see my answer to a previous question (23rd June 2007 “Which is the best exercise to get rid of my flabby tummy?”) I have added below:

To change the flabby tummy takes 2 approaches:

- Reduce body fat stores from the specific abdominal area through (a healthy and structured approach) reducing the intake of calories and an improved use of these body fat stores (through cardiovascular exercise).

- Tone the muscles under the diminishing body fat stores through strength and core exercise.

There's a widely held belief that cardiovascular exercise is the 'best' way to drop body fat - but this isn't strictly true. Cardiovascular training is an effective method for burning calories and training your body to use body fat as fuel, but it doesn't have the longer term benefits of strength (or resistance) training.

The development of muscle tone that results from strength (resistance) training, increases your metabolic rate as muscle fibres are like little power houses that burn energy 24/7, meaning you burn more body fat, more of the time.

If you prefer weight training then stick with it and try a whole body circuit approach where you perform your exercises in a circuit-style fashion, one after the other with minimal rest. This means not only do you activate muscle tissue but you achieve the effects of cardiovascular training because the circuit format keeps your heart rate raised to an effective level. You could even do a bodyweight circuit of your own at home if the gym wasn't a realistic option. An example might be:

Press ups (knees or full) - 15reps

Lunges - 10reps each leg

Sit ups - 20reps done super slow

Single leg squats - 10reps each leg

Abdominal plank - 30-40second hold

Within your strength training you must include effective core/abdominal work together with targeting the bigger muscles in the body (that burn more calories). I suggest you take a look at my core exercises article (found on the resources page of the website) and/or get a specific plan and guidance for your “core” exercises workout from a fitness professional at your gym.

If you're happy to do cardiovascular exercise, then I would suggest you do combination training, where you alternate weight training days with cardiovascular training days. This allows your body to recover properly and provides the best of both methods. The fastest way to burn it off is to do it more often! So see how many sessions you can squeeze in, (however small), into your weekly plan.

Loads of ideas here so just find what works for you and go for it! Little and often is better than 1-2 times a week so bear that in mind. Time doesn’t have to be a factor just schedule your time and make it effective! Good luck!

Kelly

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