If you’re one of many individuals struggling with an unsightly appearance of fat just above the waistline (“muffin top”), I can assure you that it’s not a hopeless situation.
The appearance of a muffin top is generally the result of a central distribution of excess body fat (apple shape). Since you don’t have any control over your genetic body fat distribution, you simply have to make an effort to keep your body fat percentage low with regular exercise and sensible eating. Here are five tips to help you do just that.
Perform a minimum of 45 minutes of cardiovascular (cardio) exercise at a moderate-to-high-intensity, 4-5 days a week. Walking briskly up the slopes of a hill or mountain, jogging, cycling, aerobic dance, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are especially effective, as you’ll burn more calories both during and after your workouts. If you’d rather exercise at a lower intensity, I highly recommend doing so for a longer duration (60 minutes or more).
Target your lower body muscle groups with resistance training using heavier loads that fatigue your muscles within 8-10 repetitions. Believe it or not, developing the muscles of your lower body this way can actually create the illusion of a smaller waist. Doing so also increases your body’s overall fat-burning potential. Start by performing 2-4 sets of the following exercises at least 2-3 days per week.
- Wide Dumbbell or Barbell Squats
- Stiff-Leg Deadlifts with Dumbbells or a Barbell
- Dumbbell Lunges (one leg at a time)
- Narrow Dumbbell or Barbell Squats Ups
- Step Ups with Dumbbells
Perform 3-4 sets of upper-body exercises, 2-3 days per week using moderate loads that fatigue your muscles within 12-15 repetitions. To really mask that muffin top, I recommend compound exercises like the bench press or pushups, the military or shoulder press, lat pulldowns or pull-ups, rows, and dips. You should also include a minimum of 2-3 sets of 20-25 repetitions of SIMPLE abdominal exercises like crunches, bicycles and planks on at least 2-3 workout days.
Monitor your calorie and nutrient intakes to avoid weight gain. If you naturally have an apple-shaped body, weight gain will likely augment your muffin top. Weight gain begins when you consume more calories than you expend (burn) as this creates a caloric surplus. When there’s a surplus, excess calories in the body are generally stored as fat. While it isn’t necessary to track the calories in every single food you eat, you should always be mindful of what you’re eating.
Be persistent but patient. If you follow these tips, over time, you’ll notice a significant change in the appearance of your midsection. But, in the short-term it may behoove you to refrain from tops and jeans that are tight fitting around the waist.
And there you have it! Five tips for reducing the appearance of a muffin top. While you can’t control the way your body genetically distributes excess body fat, following these tips can certainly help you make your body look the way you want it to look.
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Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a physician for advice.
Before starting an exercise training program you should first make sure that exercise is safe for you. If you are under the age of 55 years and generally in good health, it is probably safe for you to exercise. However, if you are over 55 years of age and/or have any health problems, be sure to consult with your physician before starting an exercise training program.