While many Americans have a weight problem, some just have a waist problem. Even if you're not overweight, muffin tops and belly bulge can plague your waistline and sabotage your fashion savvy. The key to shrinking your waistline without losing your curves is to change your body composition, which is your fat-to-lean ratio. To lower your body fat and lose your spare tire, combine resistance training, aerobics and abdominal exercises.
Melting Your Middle
Target your abdominal muscles. Abdominal exercises that focus on the specific muscles that make up your ab complex will not get rid of your fat, but they will tone and tighten the underlying muscle. Once the fat comes off, amazing abs will be revealed. Exercise scientist Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico identifies the rectus abdominis, the external and internal obliques and the transversus abdominis as key muscles. Do crunches and reverse crunches for your rectus abdominis. Do cross-over crunches to work your obliques. Do front and side planks to train all your ab muscles, including the transversus abdominis.
Amp up your aerobic workouts. Sustained rhythmic cardio lasting for 30 to 60 minutes or longer will tap into your fat stores, reducing fat in your abdominal region, according to the "Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide." A 2012 study of overweight adults published in the "Journal of Applied Physiology" found that aerobic exercise amounting to about 12 miles per week had a significant impact on fat reduction. Cycling, swimming, brisk walking, running and other exercises that use your large muscles in a rhythmic way are all good options.
Do whole-body weight training three times per week. Resistance training increases your lean muscle mass and bone mineral density while helping to melt away fat, according to Kravitz. In a presentation to the 2012 conference of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, fitness professional Brad Schoenfeld explained that total body resistance training workouts performed on three non-consecutive days per week will speed up your metabolism and promote improved body composition. He recommends doing compound multiple-joint exercises, like squats and lunges for your lower body and bench presses and cable rows for your upper body.
If you want a smaller waistline, nutrition is also key. The "Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide" recommends reducing your food portion size and eating complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with lean protein. Steer clear of simple carbohydrates like white bread, refined-grain pasta and sugary drinks. Drink plenty of plain filtered water.
Before you begin an exercise program, make sure you are in good health. Achieving your goals takes time and consistent commitment. Begin slowly and gradually increase your intensity as you become stronger and more fit.