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The 3 exercises that are a waste of time if you want to get rid of your muffin top – and 3 that WILL work
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Every individual ought to embrace the beauty of their own body, regardless of its shape or size. However, from my perspective as a personal trainer, I understand that reaching personal objectives can significantly alter someone's health and self-assurance.
And this couldn’t be more true of those who feel they suffer with a muffin top.
Before we delve deep into exactly how - and how not - to get rid of yours, it’s worth making sure we understand exactly what we are talking about when we refer to the muffin top.
A “muffin top” is a slang term used to describe the lower belly, back and hip area and the excess layer of fat that accumulates there.
Located low down, rather than high up, this excess fat is often saggy rather than firm and notoriously difficult to shift.
So why do so many of us struggle with it?
No matter what body shape you have, if you carry excess fat around your middle, it isn't good news for your health.
A huge number of recent scientific studies have found that the layer of fat around the lower tummy is usually subcutaneous fat, which means it lies in a layer deep beneath the skin.
The reason this “muffin top” fat is so damaging to our health is that it surrounds our vital organs, including our liver and intestines, so is responsible for a large number of health problems.
Not only that, but as women age, the amount of body fat they store increases — more than it does in men — and this fat is mainly stored around the hips and waist, making it difficult to shift.
So, with the odds firmly against us when it comes to getting rid of this stubborn belly fat, it’s super important we know how to act to give ourselves the best chance of bidding it goodbye.
And that’s where I come in. With over eight years of experience as a personal trainer, I know the exercises that are worth spending your time on, and which to avoid to help you reach those health goals.
🔍 Read More: Ready to elevate your fitness journey? Dive deeper with our BMI Calculator, BMR Calculator, TDEE Calculator, and Body Fat Calculator. Uncover the science behind your health!
The 3 exercises that WON’T melt your muffin top
While planks are often hailed as the ultimate core exercise, they can be (excuse the pun) a waste of time for your waist if you are trying to slim down.
Planks are an isometric exercise which simply means they are an exercise without movement.
So while a plank can be an effective core strengthener, it’s not going to be great at helping reduce body fat because it doesn’t do much to elevate your heart rate.
Plus, a plank is a difficult exercise to do for a long time, so anyone with weak core strength is going to find it hard to hold good form (keeping that body in a straight line), for a long period of time.
2. Side bends
This move often appears in Pilates and barre style workouts, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that side bends are a total waste of time.
The movement does flex your obliques, the muscles on the sides of your torso, but it mainly stretches the muscles and is such a small movement that, unless you are performing hundreds of repetitions, it’s not going to do much in terms of toning your core.
In fact, it will likely work some of the small muscles in the back rather than your tummy.
3. Sit ups
If you don’t do sit ups right, they don’t do much.
The sit up can be a very easy exercise to “cheat” and most people find themselves pulling their head and neck up and allowing the spine to curve and come off the floor, allowing the body to fall back down to the floor quickly and with no control.
This simply puts strain on the neck and back rather than the core muscles, and won’t raise the heart rate much either.
And the 3 exercises you absolutely SHOULD be doing...
Before we get into these three power exercises, I need to explain the importance of the bigger picture when it comes to tummy fat.
To successfully reduce that stubborn muffin fat around your waist, you absolutely need to embrace a combination of regular exercise and a consistent balanced diet to achieve a calorie deficit.
To lose tummy fat, you need to use up more energy than you consume in food and drink, so changing your lifestyle is key.
Once you reduce your daily calories and the amount of processed food you are eating, you can really reap the benefits of these exercises.
In order to help your body burn off that stubborn muffin top, you need to incorporate some serious cardio into your weekly exercise.
One of the best, most effective ways to raise the heart rate is sprinting.
Whether you sprint on the spot in your living room, find a stretch of road in your local park to sprint along, or can locate a nearby hill to sprint up, you will notice a huge difference to your tummy if you do sprints regularly.
The key is to sprint as fast as you can for 20 to 30 seconds, and then rest for 20 to 30 seconds, so you are forcing your heart rate to accelerate and decelerate again and again.
2. Decline side crunches
Want to get serious about tightening those core muscles?
Then you want to introduce a decline to your side crunches.
Lie on your side on a bench then shimmy along so that the top half of your body is off the end and your left arm is on the floor for support and your right hand is behind your head.
Start to lift your upper body up and as you do, bring your left hand on your chest and keep it there.
Keep raising your upper body as high as you can, then lower as low as you can, and repeat.
Do as many as you can, then swap sides.
Yes, unfortunately there is a reason that burpees appear in so many workouts… they are an incredibly effective exercise.
The burpee is an explosive move that works your core and also raises your heart rate, helping you to burn fat while also toning.
Start standing then bend your knees and put your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders.
Step or jump your legs back to bring you into a high plank position.
Bend your elbows and allow your body to fall to the floor, then push into your hands and feet and step or jump your feet back in towards your hands and come back up to standing. Repeat 12 times.