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Back when I was a teenager, I could eat whatever I wanted. A pizza a day? No problem!
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But shortly after I went to college, I noticed something odd.
My pants were getting tighter.
And I had to use a different notch on my belt.
My stomach was expanding!
This raised the age-old question: “What can I do to get rid of my belly fat?”
You’ll sometimes hear advice telling you to do a lot of crunches or sit-ups.
Surely working out your abs will burn away the fat above them, right?
Sadly, that’s not the case.
You can’t get rid of belly fat by doing a single silly exercise for ten minutes a day. But there are exercises you can perform to burn off your unwanted belly fat.
The Myth of Spot Reduction
We’ll get this out of the way first.
You can’t burn fat in a specific location by working out that part of your body.
The idea that you can is called spot reduction.
There’s no evidence that it works.
If you want to get rid of belly fat, you have to burn fat all over your body.
But don’t worry!
Belly fat is often the first fat to go away.
You also don’t have to swap three of your classes to gym classes to get enough exercise in.
Let’s look at some exercises you can do to get rid of that body fat.
Work on Your Core
First, some abdominal exercises.
“Wait a moment,” you say, “you just said that you can’t burn belly fat by working on your abs!”
While that’s true, working your core can still provide several benefits.
If you have weak abs, your belly fat will be pudgy.
A strong core will make your stomach look better, even if there’s a layer of fat over it.
So, let’s work those abs!
When most people hear “ab workout,” they think of sit-ups.
Well, sit-ups are no longer that recommended.
You see, raising your lower back like that can lead to a back injury.
Crunches are preferred. Both because they’re safer and because they isolate the abs more.
Lie on the floor with your knees bent.
Place your hands beside or behind your neck (but don’t pull your head!). You can also cross them over your chest.
Now, curl your shoulders toward your pelvis, but make sure that your lower back stays on the floor!
It doesn’t seem like much of a movement, but if you keep at it you’ll feel the burn soon enough.
For another way to work out your core, try leg raises.
You can perform these either on the floor or while hanging from a bar.
Instead of bringing your upper body toward your lower body, bring your lower body toward your upper body.
Remember, keep your lower back straight!
Keep your legs straight for a more difficult workout.
If you need something a little easier, move your knees up instead of your feet.
Also, don’t bounce. You want slow, controlled movements.
This exercise is one of my favorites and is something you can do at almost any time.
Well, unless you’re giving a presentation.
Stand or sit up straight.
Pull your stomach inward as much as possible.
It can help to imagine that you are trying to touch your belly button to your spine.
Hold it for several seconds, then release!
If you’re unused to stomach vacuums, even a few seconds can cause a little bit of a burn.
Try doing this several times per day, adding a couple of seconds each time.
Aim for a minute, and by the time you’ve worked off your belly fat, you’ll have abs to die for!
When you get your heart rate up while moving, that’s cardio.
It’s also called aerobic exercise because your muscles get oxygen from the bloodstream during the exercise.
Aerobic exercise is a good way of burning calories, even if it consumes more time than anaerobic exercise.
Many people wake up at the crack of dawn to put on tiny shorts and thump around on the sidewalk.
Well, you don’t have to get up that early, but running can still help you burn calories.
Burn enough calories, and that belly fat will disappear.
Pay attention to your running form (don’t strike with your heel!) and running will be good for you.
It’s even better with a partner.
That way you keep yourself accountable.
As good as running is, it is still not very nice to your joints.
Swimming, however, is super joint friendly.
It’s also, to me, more fun than running.
Plus it works out more than just your legs. The more muscles you work out at once, the faster you’ll burn off that fat!
Instead of going kinda fast for a long time, how about we try going as fast as possible for a short time?
Unlike running, sprinting is anaerobic exercise.
It’s also one of my favorite exercises for weight loss.
Find some level ground. Tracks are good.
Prepare to run.
As fast as you can go!
For 6 to 15 seconds.
Then stop and rest for several minutes.
If you go much past twelve seconds, it stops being anaerobic exercise and starts becoming aerobic exercise.
You want to rest for several minutes because you want your muscles to completely replenish their stores of ATP.
Working off of stored ATP instead of relying on oxygen from the blood is what makes sprinting anaerobic.
Anaerobic exercise is special for weight loss, but we’ll get into that later…
High-Intensity Interval Training
If you mix sprinting and running, you get HIIT.
The idea with this is that you alternate high-intensity exercises with low-intensity exercises.
Sprint for about 30 seconds, then walk for 15 seconds.
Repeat until you can’t sprint anymore.
Does this sound exhausting?
It is. But it’s also very effective.
And a full HIIT workout takes less than half an hour.
This makes it a great exercise when you don’t have much time to waste.
Ah, anaerobic exercise.
Also called “picking up heavy things then putting them down again.”
These are exercises such as sprints, deadlifts, squats, and all sorts of barbell exercises.
I’m going to clue you in on a secret.
They’re better than cardio for weight loss.
Ignore the gasp of all of the runners in the world, please.
You see, aerobic exercise has a weakness.
You burn calories during the exercise, but when you’ve rested, your body stops burning calories.
Anaerobic exercise is different.
After you’ve stopped the exercise, your body still needs to repair and build new muscle.
This means that you continue to burn calories after the workout is over.
Plus, muscles have higher energy requirements than fat.
So, when you gain muscle mass, you burn more calories even while sleeping!
This is called your basal metabolic rate.
Increasing your BMR is a sure-fire way to cut down on your belly fat.
This last exercise is both one of the easiest and most effective exercises.
Now, as a college student chances are you walk a lot anyway.
And that’s a good thing.
Keep it up.
Most people don’t.
Try to walk for at least half an hour every day.
It doesn’t need to be in one go.
If you drive from one end of the campus to another, start walking instead.
Also, if you tend to drive just off campus to get lunch, walk there and back as well.
So long as you keep up the habit of walking frequently, every day, you’ll slowly win against belly fat.
It’s even better if you walk in a green area, such as a forest or park.
Then you’ll get a boost to your mental health as well as your physical health.
Use Your Mouth
Here’s another type of exercise. Exercising self-control.
You lose fat through a combination of exercise and diet.
So, pay attention to your diet.
As you grow older, you won’t be able to pack the pizzas away quite as well.
Even if you perform every exercise mentioned today, if you continue to overeat, you won’t lose that belly fat.
It’s a cruel world in which pizza can hurt you, but college is full of lessons both painless and painful.
The first step to getting rid of your belly fat is to consume fewer calories.
But that’s only one part of the equation.
If you want the proverbial six-pack abs, you need to work for it.
Ab exercises are important. So are both aerobic and anaerobic exercises.
Move heavy things, move yourself, and your pants will start to loosen up in no time!