Russian Twists

Targeted Belly Exercises

Health Writer

Addressing Belly Fat

Belly fat is a common ‘problem area’ for many people. Unfortunately, uncontrollable factors like your genetics, metabolism, and hormones contribute to belly fat. These factors influence how much abdominal fat you accumulate and explain why some people are more prone to gaining weight in their midsection than others. Despite these uncontrollable factors, losing abdominal fat is possible and may be necessary for your health and well-being.Having too much belly fat increases your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and other chronic conditions. However, with the proper nutrition and targeted belly exercises you can lose weight, tone your stomach, and improve your health.

The Myth of Spot Reduction

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot target fat loss in specific areas. In fact, the only sure way to lose weight in your midsection will be to lose weight all over your body. However, just because you can’t spot reduce doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to lose belly fat. Toning exercises combined with full body cardio, and eating a healthy diet is a good strategy to lose weight. Cardio will help you burn calories and get your heart pumping while toning exercises convert fat into muscle tissue. Some effective targeted belly exercises include mountain climbers, burpees, bicycle crunches, forearm planks, lying leg raises, Russian twists, and reverse crunches.

1. Mountain Climbers

One of the best ways to lose belly fat is to combine cardio exercises and toning exercises. Mountain Climbers fall into both categories. This exercise requires upper body strength and also targets your upper and lower abs, glutes, hamstrings, and quads, making it a full body workout. To do mountain climbers, start as if you were doing pushups. Your back should be straight, arms fully extended, and your hands beneath your shoulders. Next, lift your left foot and bring your left knee towards your chest. Quickly return your left leg to the ground and alternate between legs in a running motion.

Mountain Climbers

2. Burpees

Burpees are a well-known calorie blasting exercise and are popular for a reason. Not only do they target your abs, but they work your entire body. Begin standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat until your palms touch the floor then jump back into a plank position. Next, reverse the movement until you are standing again. Jump lightly to complete the rep, then repeat. Burpees can be a huge challenge without modification, but if you want more intensity try adding a push up when you are in the plank position or speed up your pace for some serious cardio. Either way, burpees will be a great addition to your workout routine.

3. Bicycle Crunches

If you are looking for an engaging ab workout, bicycle crunches may be right for you. This exercise targets your upper abs, lower abs, obliques, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your hands lightly behind your head for support then lift your head. Next, raise both bent legs and extend your right leg. Rotate to the left and bring your right elbow to your left knee. Switch sides to complete the rep. Remember, the most important thing when doing bicycle crunches is form, not speed. Slow down, focus on your form, and breathe to get the most out of this exercise.

4. Forearm Plank

Planks are one the most simple yet effective exercises out there. It’s convenient, since you can do it almost anywhere. There is no jumping or harsh movements involved which makes this exercise good for people with arthritis or other joint pain. Start by kneeling down on the floor. Next, lean on your elbows and extend both of your legs back until you are in plank position. Your neck, hips, and back should be in a straight line. Hold your position for 30-60 seconds then rest. Although this exercise works the biceps, shoulders, and glutes, your arms and legs should not be doing all the work. Instead, you want to engage your core the most. This will help tone your stomach and burn fat.

5. Lying Leg Raises

Lying leg raises are a great core exercise that targets your abs, glutes, hamstrings and quads. Begin by lying flat on your back with your arms beside your body and palms to the floor. Keep your legs straight and pressed together as you slowly raise them towards the ceiling. Stop raising your legs once they are at a 90-degree angle, then slowly lower them. Raise your legs again before your feet touch the ground and repeat. Remember your back should always be touching the floor. Arching your back makes the exercise less effective and may result in soreness. If you notice that your back raises off the floor, try bending your legs and slowing your pace. This way you will get the most out of the exercise and stay safe.

6. Russian Twists

Russian twists are another simple, yet effective ab work out that you can do almost anywhere. Start in a sitting position with your knees bent and your feet on the floor then lean back slightly. Your body should be at a 45-degree angle in a sit-up position. Next, with your arms raised by your side, rotate your upper body from left to right. This movement works the obliques, glutes, upper abs and lower abs at the same time.

Russian Twists

7. Half Seated Reverse Crunch

Much like a traditional crunch the reverse crunch works the upper and lower abs. However, a reverse crunch also targets the glutes and is more comfortable for your back and neck. Begin in a seated position with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your elbows and palms beside your body and lean back. Next, lift both of your legs and bring your knees as close to your chest as you can. Return your legs slowly back to the starting position then repeat.

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