According to recent estimations, America’s obesity epidemic is growing with an overfat prevalence rate as high as 91% for adults and 69% for children. Overfat is an umbrella term that refers to those with excess body fat linked to at least one risk factor for impaired health.
While this risk may offer the motivation most individuals need to lose weight, many of us are just as concerned with the reflection we see in the mirror. To help target the ever-challenging abdominal area, we’ve created a simple five-step guide to a slimmer waistline for both men and women with one very important caveat: you can target and tone muscles through exercise, but you can’t target the underlying fat. Luckily, we’ve included a beauty secret to help you around that, too!
25-Minute At-Home Abdominal Workout
Plank a Day
A standard plank is a full-body workout basic that relies on proper form and your own body weight to strengthen core muscles. On an exercise mat, kneel face-down on your knees and elbows, keeping knees hip-width apart and elbows aligned directly under your shoulders. In one fluid motion, engage your core and push up to raise off your knees and on to your toes, keeping knees slightly bent to prevent locking and elbows still aligned under the shoulders. Keep your back straight and booty in alignment (use your core to prevent yourself from raising your bum too high or letting hips sink). Hold for 30 seconds, then lower back down to your knees. Aim to increase the amount of time in plank position for a greater burn or repeat in 30-second intervals.
Do the Medicine Ball Twist
Traditional sit-ups are often considered a core-toning classic, but did you know that they place nearly 750 pounds of pressure on the spine? With each sit-up, you’re risking lower back pain and the potential for a herniated disc. Instead, consider medicine ball twists for a bigger burn and less risk of back injury. Start by laying down flat on your back on an exercise mat with a medicine ball (try five pounds) held in your hands on your chest. Bend your knees, lift feet into the air, and lift your back off the mat to create a 45-degree angle between your torso and the floor. Keeping your core engaged, your back and neck straight and aligned, legs raised with knees bent and calves parallel to the floor, and the medicine ball aligned with your chest, keep yourself balanced while bringing the medicine ball down to your left side, twisting your core slightly to bring the medicine ball to your left hip. Return the medicine ball to center and repeat to the right side for one repetition. Complete two to three sets of 20 rapid repetitions, increasing weight as needed. Keep legs tight together throughout, not letting them kick out as you twist.
Skip a Hike for Mountain Climbers
A little tougher to start, mountain climber crosses will get your heart rate up while targeting your core for a belly-busting, high-intensity exercise. Mountain climbers are also recommended for strengthening the back and battling bra bulge. To start, pretend like you’re going to do a plank on your toes and hands (not knees and/or elbows this time), ensuring your back is straight, bum is down and aligned, and your core is engaged. While maintaining your plank, bring your right knee up across the chest toward your left hand, then return to your original plank position. Repeat on the opposite side, bringing your left knee across the chest toward your right hand. This is one repetition. Aim for 50 rapid repetitions—start slow and then build up speed, keeping motions controlled and proper form in mind.
Pump up the Jumps
Good for the glutes and a perky peach, squat jumps get your heart rate up while targeting the core for a caloric burn boost. Start by standing tall, feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing straight forward, knees straight but not locked, and arms resting by your sides. Keeping the back straight and core engaged, bend the knees and lower into a seated position, keeping your knees in line with your ankles. Jump straight up, lifting arms forward and up to propel higher. Land by returning to squatting position, knees aligned with ankles, core still engaged, and arms back at your sides. That’s one repetition. Complete two sets of 12 repetitions and increase the number of repetitions as your form and strength improve.
Roll It Out
Grab an exercise ball and tag this workout move onto the end of your ab-training session to reallyincrease the burn. Standing ab rollouts target the core, increasing strength while improving balance. Begin with a properly sized exercise ball for your height. Stand with legs about shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, bend at the hips, and place the ball on the floor with your hands on top of it, palms down. Hips should be aligned with ankles and your back should be straight; walk the ball out a bit from your body as needed to maintain this alignment. Next, lean forward onto the ball, allowing it to slowly roll along your forearms and stopping at the elbows. You should be balancing on your toes at this point. Using your abdominals and glutes, pull your body backwards, allowing the ball to roll back up your forearms and to your palms, returning to your starting position. That’s one repetition. Repeat at least five times, take a short rest, and repeat another five times. Focus on form and control to begin, increasing repetitions as you get stronger. If you don’t have an exercise ball, you can use an ab roller, but know that the intensity will be greater.
How to Get More Out of Your Workouts
Cutting calories, boosting your caloric burn, and toning muscles with targeted exercises like these can certainly help to shape areas of the body, but if you’re not seeing the results you want from your workouts, there are a couple of options. Opt to make some changes to your usual exercise routine to get more out of your gym time, or consider getting a little outside help by consulting your friendly, neighborhood Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr Daniel Durand MD, FACS, FRCSC at 514-941-5562