I have a large amount of abdominal fat around my stomach and lots of back fat. It’s really making me depressed since I want to lose weight but every time I start out it seems like I get off track quickly and fail. I need some guidance. What exercises do you recommend and how many calories should I decrease in order to get rid of all the fat?
The two most important and effective methods to tighten up one’s midsection or “core” (i.e., abdominal area and trunk region) are:
- Proper and consistent nutrition
- Cardiovascular exercise
The single most important and effective method to get your midsection headed to where you want it to be is proper and consistent nutrition. Okay, great. So what does proper and consistent nutrition mean? Actually, the concept is quite simple: The proper part consists of low-fat, low-sugar foods that contain a moderate to high amount of protein in combination with quality carbohydrates that are high in fiber (i.e., fibrous carbs). You ideally want to eat three (3) medium-sized meals per day that contain these types of foods with a lean protein shake in between those meals at least twice per day for a snack. For example:
A good breakfast may be an eight (8) egg-white omelet cooked in extra-virgin olive oil loaded with your favorite vegetables (e.g., mushrooms, spinach, peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc). Cheese is an option, but not recommended if you are really looking to shred your midsection as quickly as possible. Add two (2) slices of dry whole wheat toast and a cup of black coffee and you will be ready to attack your day.
For lunch, you may want to knock down a grilled or blackened chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, etc (again, whatever your favorite veggies are). Adding a little ketchup, mustard or teriyaki sauce is okay, but be sure to avoid condiments like mayonnaise and ranch dressing because they do nothing but add needless calories that are counterproductive to your goal of tightening up your midsection. As far as beverages go, water is always your best option, but unsweet iced tea or sugar-free soda are also acceptable on occasion.
A great snack is a lean protein shake or maybe some cottage cheese with berries or a handful of nuts like almonds or walnuts.
For dinner, some grilled or blackened salmon or similar nutrient dense fish is always a great choice. Extra virgin olive oil is always a fantastic resource to cook your fish (or virtually any food) in and be sure to hit up your fish with your favorite low sodium seasonings and spices. Great side dishes to accompany your fish are a baked sweet potato or yam and as much green fibrous veggies as you can handle (steamed broccoli, steamed asparagus, Brussels sprouts, etc). Wash it all down with some ice cold water with lemon or your favorite sugar-free beverage and you’ll be good to go!
A great bedtime snack is a lean protein shake. When eating before bed or late at night you really want to be sure to limit the amount of carbohydrates and sugars to as few as possible. Foods that are high in lean protein are the optimal solution for bedtime snacks to supply your muscles with the fuel they need to repair and rebuild.
Dictionary.com defines consistency as “steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc“. Simply put, all you need to do to achieve your goals of improving and continuing to improve your midsection is to follow the advice provided in the paragraphs above on a consistent basis. It’s important to remember that you do not have to be perfect! Striving for perfection will only lead to disappointment and failure. All you need to do is be consistent and improvement will become a byproduct of your consistency!
Cardiovascular exercise or “cardio” for short, is the second most important and effective method to get your midsection (and whole body) lean and trim. Cardio plus proper and consistent nutrition is the killer combo for fat destruction. Just like nutrition, cardio must be done properly and consistently in order to maintain any improvement you have worked so hard to get. There are many cardio routines that effectively burn fat. The routines that are right for you will depend a lot on your personal state of physical health. For example, sprinting and explosive cardio training routines are outstanding for burning fat and conditioning, but not everyone can sprint or perform some of these routines due to personal limitations such as bad knees, bad ankles, heart problems, achy joints, etc.
You should aim to do a cardio workout at least three (3) times per week. Whenever you do a cardio workout (except for sprint work), always do it for at least thirty (30) minutes straight with no rest (including walking) and be sure to maintain as brisk of a pace that you can handle. Ideally, shoot for 5-6 days of cardio per week consisting of 45-60 minutes each session for the best results in burning calories and overall fat. Some of the best cardio workouts include the elliptical machine, jogging, Stairclimber machine, stationary bike and power walking outside or on the treadmill. Remember: You don’t need to kill yourself with cardio – just be consistent!
Strength Training Exercises
Along with a very clean diet and proper cardio, you also want to directly hit your abs with different exercises. Here are the best ones I recommend:
To tone up the lower back, one of the best exercises is back extensions which you can review here:
By consistently hitting it from all angles (diet, cardio, strength training) you will be well on your way to reaching your fitness goal of a tight, lean midsection!