Here's an article I wrote for The Soko:
The number one question I usually get sounds something like this, “How can I lose THIS”, which is followed by a slap of the hand or a finger pointing to their stomach. The rate of those questions seems to pick up at an alarming rate around New Year’s, since that’s the time when everybody wants to change their body. I think that’s great, first of all, but I also realize that it was probably the same challenge these individuals had last year which means they don’t know the proper way to actually lose that belly that they would rather ring the new year in without.
Focus on the Whole Body
When you’re in the gym and your goal is to shed belly fat, your metabolism should be your prime focus. What do I mean? Well, the higher you can get your metabolism throughout the day, the more fat you are going to burn.
So what you have to do is work as many muscles as you can. If you just work on your biceps during a workout you only worked roughly 3% of your muscle mass. That’s just not going to cut it.
What you should be doing are compound exercises. Compound exercises are exercises that work more than one muscle at a time. Examples of exercises you want to be doing are squat variations, dead lift variations, lunge variations, pushup variations, pull-ups, chin-ups, row variations, etc.
Your Workout Should Not be a Walk in the Park
When it comes to fat loss, intensity matters. It matters a lot. The more intense your workout, the higher the after effect on your metabolism is after the workout. That means that you will be burning more calories during the rest of the day than you would have been by going for a stroll in the park or lifting a lighter amount of weight. Research has actually shown that your metabolism will remain higher for up to 38 hours after an intense weight training session. In comparison, it takes only a few minutes to reverse back to your normal metabolism after a light and easy weight training session.
Understand that I’m not telling you to all of a sudden load 300 pounds onto a barbell and start squatting. What I mean is that you need to be using a weight that challenges your muscles while you are doing repetitions.
If you are doing 8 repetitions of squats, then you need to be using a weight where you can perform 8 perfect repetitions and probably a ninth if you had to. Leaving one ‘in the tank’ as they say is the safe thing to do and it won’t affect your results.
Interval Training Is a Must
You have heard this before I’m sure, but did you know that interval training has been proven to burn a lot of belly fat. Crazy I know.
Steve Boucher, a fitness professional in Australia, came out with some interesting findings in a research study he performed about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
During a 15 week study, he had women perform either HIIT or steady state cardio for 45 minutes, 3 times a week. The HIIT group performed a 5 minute warm-up, did 8 seconds of bike sprints at 90% intensity with 12 seconds of ‘rest’ at 30% intensity for 20 minutes, and then finished with a 5 minute cool-down.
At first the HIIT group only did 5 minutes of HIIT and built up to 20 minutes by the sixth session (2 weeks).
Here’s what he found:
• The HIIT group lost 3 times MORE fat then the steady cardio group
• The HIIT group worked out HALF as much than the steady state cardio group
• The HIIT group’s aerobic fitness actually increased MORE than the steady state cardio group (26% and 19% respectively)
• The HIIT group lost a SIGNIFICANT amount of fat off of their stomach
If you are currently performing long, steady state cardio you could be holding yourself back from maximum fat loss. And if you’re trying to shed that ugly belly fat from your body, then interval training is the way to go.
What You Need To Remember
Intensity has a large impact on your fat loss success. When you look at the basic concept of weight loss, which is the calories in versus calories out, you will consume fewer calories than you expend resulting in weight loss. But that’s not going to get you the lean stomach you want and it could be a very long and tedious process. For optimal fat loss, be sure to keep your intensity high and you will reap the benefits.
Dan Grant is an internationally recognized body transformation coach certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is the owner of Dan Grant Fitness Coaching Services. He currently trains (in person and online), lectures in the USA and Canada, and writes. His professional webpage is http://www.dangrantfitness.com. You can grab a copy of Dan’s highly popular e-course at http://www.bodytransformationcoach.com.