Best & Safest Exercises to Lose Belly Fat

Love handles, spare tire, bowlful of jelly ... give it whatever funny nickname you want, but belly fat is serious business. The fat that gathers around your belly is called visceral fat and it poses more health risks than the subcutaneous fat that gathers on your butt and thighs. Belly fat is linked to a host of health issues like heart disease and type II diabetes. But never fear, you can lose that belly fat with a little know-how and effort.

  1. Spot Reducing is a Myth

    • Contrary to what those late-night exercise equipment infomercials might have you think, you can't target any particular area for weight loss. When you burn more calories than you take in, your body will gradually start to lose weight all over. Though it would be nice to force your body to shed only belly fat so you can fit into your favorite jeans, that just isn't how it works.

      While cardio workouts won't specifically target your belly fat, they'll get your metabolism revving and help your body shed extra pounds. Include a cardio workout most (if not every) day of the week. Remember, you're not glued to one routine. In fact, it's good to vary the activity and intensity of your workouts. Good choices include walking, running, biking and swimming ... but any aerobic activity will do.

      A good strength training routine is also effective for weight loss. When your muscles are toned, your resting metabolic rate increases. Subsequently, you burn more calories even when at rest. Even if your priority is to lose belly fat, it's important to have a balanced strength training routine that targets all of your muscle groups.

      You can, however, incorporate exercises to strengthen your core. While they won't help you to specifically lose belly fat, they will tighten your tummy muscles so that, after you lose the excess belly weight, you'll be left with a sexy, toned midsection.

    Planks

    • When properly done, planks work all of your core muscles -- especially your oblique abdominals (the outer muscles of your abdomen).

      Lie face down on an exercise mat with your elbows and forearms under your chest. Lift your body up onto your toes (similar to push-up position, except you're on your forearms). Hold the position by tightening your core muscles. Be sure to keep your back flat and don't raise or lower your hips. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds, then repeat.

    Crunches

    • Crunches are a tried-and-true staple for abs, but if not done properly, they can result in injury. Try a safer version of the standard crunch by using an exercise ball.

      Place the ball on an exercise mat or other non-slippery surface. Carefully sit on the ball. With your feet planted shoulder-width apart on the floor, slowly roll the ball until your lower back is resting on it. With your arms crossed over your chest, raise your torso by contracting your ab muscles. Lower and repeat.

    The Bicycle

    • The bicycle is a standard exercise for a good reason ... it works. This exercise will tone and trim your waist as well as work on your six pack.

      Lie on your back with your fingers lightly resting on the back of your head. (Do not pull your head and neck with your hands as that can injure your neck or spine.) Use your core muscles to lift your shoulders off the ground. Raise your knees toward your chest. Straighten your right leg and bring your right elbow toward your left knee. Alternate the leg/elbow movement (your legs will mimic the cycling of a bike). Repeat 10 to 15 times.

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