Ask any woman - or man, for that matter - what they would like to change about their bodies and 90 percent of the time you will hear the same response: a flat stomach and a toned butt. However, if you ask those same people if they think it’s likely they will ever get the tummy and behind of their dreams, and most will respond negatively. It’s easy enough to see why - after all, both of these areas are notoriously stubborn when it comes to getting into shape. And it’s more than possible to be super fit and healthy, yet still, have a few pounds of flab floating around your midriff.
But the truth is there are some simple ways to get rid of this fat, and if you put the work in you can get a flat tummy. These 4 effective ways provide you with the cornerstone for getting the body you didn’t think possible - let’s take a closer look.
1. Run a Calorie Deficit
Weight loss has one basic principle you need to remember - use more calories than you consume, and you will also lose weight. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that - the 100 calories you get from a plate of vegetables is different to the 100 calories you get from a piece of cake. And you shouldn’t assume that running a severe calorie deficit is going to help you lose weight quickly, either.
Run a calorie deficit, but do it safely for long-term metabolic health. You should start by subtracting somewhere in the region of 250-500 calories per day from your usual diet, and you will safely lose ½ - 1 lb every week. And if you are exercising a lot, don’t forget that to fuel your body you will need to consume more calories, feel free to eat more on training days and less on rest days.
2. Increase Protein Intake
There are a lot of myths about protein which you can safely ignore. And one of them, in particular, can be incredibly damaging when it comes to women trying to trim the fat from the stomach and butt. May women believe consuming protein will result in them taking on a bulky, masculine shape, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
First of all, protein helps you build muscle, which in turn helps you burn fat. Secondly, muscle is leaner and denser than fat, so you will end up looking thinner in the long-term. If you do bulk up at all, it will only be temporary - as your muscle grows and you still haven’t burnt off all your body fat yet. So, don’t let this myth destroy your chances of achieving the stomach of your dreams. Eat plenty of protein, as part of a balanced diet, and you will see results.
3. Strength Training
Ideally, you should focus two fitness sessions a week on strength, whether it’s using your own body weight or going to the gym for a weights session. When you are just starting out, try body weight exercises - squats, pushups, and dips are ideal. As you progress, you will need to adjust your repetition numbers, and perhaps explore some new techniques.
Strength training, in fact the recovery from strength training will help your body to build muscle and get stronger. This is especially important in the stomach area the more muscles you have the more likely they will appear and having bigger lean mass will also make your body burn fat more efficiently during and outside your workouts. If you don't know where to start, try to find a trainer to help you start your journey to a stronger core and a flatter tummy.
4. Improve cardio fitness
When you think of cardio, what comes in mind first? Endless hours on the treadmill or exercise bike, maybe running or swimming? How about the new trend called HIIT? The word "cardio" in relation to exercise is often used incorrectly to mainly describe activities that last over 45 minutes and normally involve a cardio machine or running shoes. So let's get things clear.
Any activity where you move will raise your heart rate somewhat, some only slightly whilst others significantly. This also means your "cardiovasular fitness" can be improved in more than one ways using three different energy systems your body has depending on the exertion level of the activity.
1. Aerobic system.
Produces energy from the breakdown (glycolisis) of nutrients from food like fat and carbs by using oxygen. The process is very complex and slow which is why it only suits lower intensity steady state exercises like walking, jogging, swimming: activities you can maintain for a long period of time without getting out of breath.
2. Anaerobic system.
Produces energy from carbs stored in your muscles via glycolisis that doesn't need the presence of oxygen. Lactic acid is accumulated as the by-product of this process which is why it's also called lactic acid system. The body can't maintain this process for too long therefor it suits relatively shorter, more demanding activities between 30s-3 minutes.
3. Phosphagen system
This system can dig in and produce energy immediately by using the creatine phosphate stored in the body for a quick boost of energy, but can only be mantained up to a few seconds (30s on athletic fitness level). Heavy lifting, sprints and other very short bursts of maximum effort activities activate the phosphate system.
HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training
Whilst many people will compare HIIT to "cardiovascular" exercise and often favour one to the other here I am telling you that HIIT itself is also cardio and it's a special version since it's using at least 2 if not all the energy systems during one session.
Which one of the three will be involved depends on their efficiency levels in your body. Generally we deem someone fit when their recovery time is fast from a high intensity energy burst. The fitter you are the quicker you recover and the more intervals you can perform at higher intensity.
From all the above I trust you understand there isn't one definite exercise as a solution. You need to work on getting all three of these systems to become as efficient as possible to help you with your "cardio fitness". Doing HIIT only will not get you there, however including it to your workout routine has been proven to have increased the body's efficiency to burn fat.
My advice assuming you are able to commit to exercise sessions 3 times a week is the following:
OK, so what can you take away from these four simple tips? Hopefully, you’ll now understand a few of the dos and don’ts about getting a flat tummy and toned butt:
A flat tummy is well within your reach - it’s all about how much you want it. Would you like to learn more about these points or just need some advice on where to start with your fitness goals? Feel free to get in touch and ask away!