As the fitness “dead zone” of October-December is now moving into full swing, I’ve got to get up on my little soapbox and make a stand. I walked into my gym yesterday right at peak rush hour. I made my way downstairs and was stunned (not really) to see the gym 80% unoccupied. Had this been a few short months ago, the gym would have been filled to the brim with San Diego’s finest meatheads and beach bimbo’s alike. Now, keep in mind, this is a gym steps from the beach here in San Diego, not some gym in a strip mall in metro Cleveland (sorry Cleveland people!).
Yes…even with such a strong base of fit, and yes, vain, people in close proximity, the gym was still a ghost town. In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t complain – I didn’t have to hear “Hey brah! Mind if I work in?” 20 times during my workout. But I digress – let’s get back to the real situation at hand. The fact of the matter is, so many of us use the end of the year to justify our slacking off, forgetting about the diet, and letting ourselves go. Then, we spend the next 6 months getting ourselves back into “summer shape”, only to repeat the process year in, year out.
With the amount of user commentary I receive about flattening out a stomach, eliminating love handles, and anything else you could possibly wonder about your midsection, it made sense to tailor my annual “stop being lazy before New Year’s” towards the bulk of these requests. I want you to stand up and try something different for once. Instead of making New Year’s your starting point, I want you to make it your finish line this year. That means you’ve got exactly 49 ( 7 weeks for you non-math majors) to achieve what I’m challenging you to achieve. This year, we’re going to use these 7 weeks to cut belly fat, build your core strength, and flatten out and tighten your entire midsection.
To help you do this, I put together a list of the 10 things you absolutely MUST start doing to achieve this tummy tightening goals by New Year’s. So I challenge you, check out this list, do something DIFFERENT this year, and realize one of your fitness goals BEFORE New Year’s comes around….putting you in a much better position to succeed in 2014.
The Top 10 Ways to Flatten Your Stomach and Reduce Belly Fat
1. Accept the fundamental truth about your stomach. All the sit ups in the world aren’t going to let you kiss your belly fat goodbye. A good balance of uptempo cardio workouts, total body strength training, and compound abdominal exercises is the key to improving your core. Also, spot toning doesn’t work – attack your entire body each time you’re at the gym and good things will follow.
2. Mix it up. Core exercises are some of the most repeated exercises on the planet, for your average gym-goer. I want you to mix it up by doing some more advanced exercises that will shock your body and ignite faster muscle growth. Try these exercises out:
3. Metabolic conditioning is your friend. Perhaps better than any other form of exercise, metabolic conditioning (MetCon for short) brings about lighting-fast changes in those who stay dedicated to a well-formulated plan. MetCon workouts involve heavy lifts intertwined with short bursts of cardio, making them extremely effective at raising your resting metabolic rate…and slashing through body fat in the process. Check out this belly fat blasting metabolic conditioning workout for a good introduction into this format of training.
4. Give intermittent fasting a try. I’ve heard the war stories from clients and readers alike; “no matter what I do, I can’t lose my belly” or some variation of that. Nine times out of ten, when those clients adopt the intermittent fasting lifestyle, their belly fat problems slowly become a thing of the past. Read up on intermittent fasting and see if it might be right for you.
5. Eliminate as much sugar as possible from your diet. Yes, this includes “natural sugar” found in fruits. Sugar has been scientifically shown to increase insulin levels, increase fat retention, and contribute to a host of other chronic illnesses when consumption remains high over a long period. I’m not saying you need to ban fruit, but would it really kill you to sub that banana for some celery and peanut butter a little more often?
6. Perform resistance cardio in place of standard cardio. What is resistance cardio you might wonder? This type of cardio includes swimming or using a row machine, for instance. Cardio that includes a strong muscular element to it is going to end up helping you burn more total calories and significantly raise your metabolic rate far beyond what a standard run or spin class could do for you.
7. Start doing barbell hip thrusts. In addition to working the major muscles in your posterior chain (glutes, lower back, hamstrings) this movement is also going to do wonders for your core strength and stability. This exercise should be a regular for anyone who wants a tight tummy, free of belly fat. If you’re not familiar with hip thrusts, check out this video demo.
8. Practice yoga at least once a week. The static holds and stretching found in many yoga disciplines is a fantastic way to continue hitting your muscles (core especially) with a format it’s unused to. The best way to flatten out that stomach is by continually hitting it from a variety of angles, with a variety of different exercise formats. Diversity is key – remember that!
9. Take up a core-focused training program. If you’re serious about really changing your stomach and eliminating belly fat, it would make sense to take up a training program that is specifically focused on improving your core. If your goal over the next 7 weeks is to improve your midsection and cut down on fat, don’t waste time with less-focused plans. Take a look at The Flattest Stomach of Your Life fitness program and consider giving it a shot.
10. Stop stressing about your stomach. Seriously, this may sound cheesy, but science says it’s true. When you stress, your body releases cortisol. Among other things, cortisol is directly related to fat-retention. So the more you look in the mirror or at that stupid magazine and wonder why you can’t look a certain way, you’re creating a vicious cycle of stress, fat retention, more stress, more fat retention, etc. Just chill out. You’re going to lose the weight. You’re going to flatten your stomach. These are two things completely under YOUR control. Sure it takes hard work and it may take a few months, but so what? The important things are, it’s going to happen and you control your own destiny. Find reassurance in that the next time you are questioning yourself and your appearance.
So with that, I challenge you to take this flat belly challenge. While everyone else is taking it easy, over-doing it on holiday snacks, and happily skipping the gym, I want you to do something different this year. Show yourself why you’re committed to this whole health and fitness thing. Put yourself in the best position to succeed in 2014 by ending 2013 with a bang and take these top 10 ways to trim down belly fat to heart. Believe me, you’ll thank yourself come January 1st.