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Stomach fat can seem like the hardest thing to get rid of when you’re losing weight. When a lot of people start exercising, they tend to notice significant changes within the first few months; slimmer face, more defined shoulders and a less flabby back. But for a lot of people, stomach fat seems to stick around even through all of this progress.

The reason behind this is because many people are afraid of building muscle, especially women. They are worried about getting “bulky”, thinking that doing a few muscle building exercises will turn them into the hulk. In reality, building muscle can actually give the appearance of being thinner, especially in the stomach area.

If all you are doing is cardio, you are not going to be able to sculpt and shape your body into the figure you want, you are just going to become a smaller version of your previous body type. This is why I am going to show you three different exercises that will help you burn fat and tone your stomach at the same time, giving you the best of both worlds and bringing you one step closer to getting the body you always wanted.

The Crunch

Butterfly-Crunch

The crunch is the great-grandfather of all ab exercises. It’s simple to do and still proves to be more effective than most of the fancy ab workouts being sold to people these days.

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To start off, lay on your back with your knees up and your feet flat on the ground. For an extra challenge you can have the bottoms of your feet facing each other (as shown in the picture above), but if you are just starting out, just stick to keeping your feet flat on the ground.

While laying flat on your back, flex your ab muscles and lift the upper half of your torso as high off of the ground as possible. Hold this position for one full second and slowly lower yourself back down to the ground. It should take three seconds in total to complete one repetition, one second going up, holding for one second, and one second going down. Perform at least 10 repetitions per set.

Your hand position in this exercise isn’t that important, as long as you are feeling tension in your abs. You can have your arms at your sides or you can cross them over your chest or cup your ears for an extra challenge.

The Plank

Front-Plank

The plank is the most unique exercise on this list due to the fact that it is an isometric exercise, which basically means that it is an exercise where you are not moving or performing repetitions. Several studies have found isometric exercises to be effective at burning fat as well as building muscle due to the fact that they raise the temperature of deep muscle tissue.

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To perform a plank, start off by laying flat on your stomach, with your elbows on the ground and your forearms out in front of you. Then flex your abs and lift your body up off the ground. The only parts of your body that should be touching the ground are your toes and forearms.

Try to keep your body as straight as possible and hold this position for 20-30 seconds, increasing your time as you progress.

To add some variation to this exercise, go on one elbow and turn your body to the side so that your hips are facing the ground. This will work out your obliques (what most people refer to as love handles) and will allow this exercise to tone the side of your stomach as well as the front. If you want to add this variation, dedicate 10 seconds of your 30 second plank to each side, with the remaining 10 seconds going back the original position.

Scissors

This is one of the more complicated moves, but it’s a great combination of cardio and muscle building.

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Lie on your back with your hands cupping the back of your head. Flexing your abs, bring your left knee up so that it touches your right elbow, and then alternate with your right knee touching your left elbow. Your legs should look like they are performing a cycling motion, similar to riding a bike.

Once you have alternated to both sides, that is one rep, which should take you between two to three seconds to complete. Complete 10-15 reps, or 30 seconds worth of them.

The Routine

Perform all of these exercises consecutively, which at 30 seconds each should take about 90 seconds in total. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat this cycle at least five or six more times, or until you can’t do the exercises with correct form any longer.

Don’t be discouraged if you need to take longer rest periods after the first cycle or two, a 30 second rest period is just a recommendation and you can take up to a minute long break depending on your fitness level. Remember, you want to push yourself, but overexerting your body can actually have a negative effect on your fat loss goals.

This exercise routine can take as little as 10 minutes. It may seem like a short time period to be able to provide any noticeable improvements, however it is a high intensity exercise, which many studies have proven to be more effective at burning fat then long, drawn out endurance exercises.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991639/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3587394/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1126131

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21558571

Image sources:

http://healthyrecipeshome.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Butterfly-Crunch.jpg

http://healthyrecipeshome.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Front-Plank.jpg

http://healthyrecipeshome.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Scissors.jpg

http://www.fashionmg-style.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/670px-Perform-the-Plank-Exercise-Step-4-Version-2.jpg

http://www.fashionmg-style.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/670px-Perform-the-Plank-Exercise-Step-10-Version-3.jpg

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