7 most effective strength exercises to prevent belly fat

If there’s one common enemy that most of us have battled in life, it’s stubborn belly fat. You know, that frustrating extra padding around your midsection that looks determined to stick around no matter what. Luckily, we consulted a personal trainer and strength training expert to compile a powerful arsenal of strength exercises to help you banish belly fat and reveal a toned, sculpted core. If you’re looking to dramatically improve your exercise regimen, read on for seven of the most effective strength exercises for preventing belly fat.

But first, we need to clarify one thing: Spot reduction, the idea that you can target fat loss in specific areas of your body, is a myth. However, what we can do is focus on building lean muscle mass and increasing metabolism to burn fat in general and this is where these strength exercises come into play.

Rose McNulty, CPTNASM certified personal trainer and nutrition coach with Garage Gym Reviews, she says ETNT“At the end of the day, preventing belly fat has more to do with your overall activity level than the calories you burn. When it comes to strength training, try to incorporate movements that target multiple muscle groups as well as those that they target the abdominal area. Compound movements, like squats and deadlifts, are great for getting a total body burn because they engage large muscle groups.

Regardless of your fitness level, read on if you want to say goodbye to the spare tire and say hello to a fitter, healthier person. So, find out which 6 exercises for belly fat you should start doing in your 30s.

illustration of squats to press

The dumbbell squat-to-press is a dynamic full-body exercise. This compound movement combines the strength-building benefits of squats and overhead presses.

To perform the exercise, McNulty says, “Stand standing with feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing slightly outward. Hold a pair of dumbbells at shoulder height, palms facing forward. Bend over.” your knees and move your hips to lower your body into a squat position. As you lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel to or slightly lower than the floor, keep your chest facing forward and shoulders back. Once you reach the bottom of the squat, push through your heels to stand up, then press the dumbbells up until your arms are almost completely straight. Slowly lower the weights, then repeat. Go for three sets of 12 to 15 reps.

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barbell deadlift illustration

This compound exercise targets your posterior chain (back), including your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps, engaging your core for added stability.

“Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and place a barbell on the floor in front of you, centered over your feet,” instructs McNulty. “Bend your knees and reach down to grip the barbell with your palms facing you and your hands slightly wider than your feet. Keep your shoulders back and spine neutral as you lift as you lift the weight straight up.” fully extend your hips and knees as you stand up, and once you’re fully lifted up, pause briefly before slowly lowering the weight back down.” Do three sets of eight to 12 reps.

woman doing lunges outdoors, concept of compound exercises to change your body shape

Lunges are a classic but very effective exercise for targeting the lower body and engaging the core muscles. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), lunges activate your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, helping you build lean muscle mass while promoting better balance and stability.

“Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then take a big step forward with your right foot, adjusting as needed to feel stable in your stance,” says McNulty. “Bend both knees at the same time to lower into the lunge until your knees form right angles and your left knee hovers just above the floor. Pause, then push off your right heel to return to starting position. Then, switch legs. Keep alternating with each rep.” He perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps on each leg.

RELATED: 6 Simple Exercises to Reduce Your Waistline After 40

woman doing planks exercise

This static hold is a serious belly fat burner as it engages the entire core. Plus, planks can be modified to fit your fitness level no matter where you are in your fitness journey.

“Get into a tabletop position on all fours. Step your feet back so your body forms a straight line, with your hips and knees fully extended. Lower onto your forearms, keeping your hips low and elbows directly under your shoulders. to hold this position as long as your workout calls for it. Lower your knees to the floor while maintaining a strong core if your form falters in a full plank,” explains McNulty. Aim for three sets of static holds for 30 to 60 seconds.

women doing bicycle crunches

This dynamic exercise will help you sculpt those covetable side abs. The alternating movements from knee to elbow while performing crunches will increase the challenge and intensity, effectively working the entire abdominal region.

“Lie down on an exercise mat, bend your knees, and lift your feet off the floor to assume an inverted tabletop position,” says McNulty. “Place your hands lightly behind your head, but avoid pulling at the neck. Engage your abs to lift your upper body slightly off the floor. Rotate your core as you lower your right arm toward your left knee, simultaneously bringing your left knee down right upper arm. You should feel movement in your obliques or the sides of your abs. Return to the starting position, then switch sides. Continue alternating on each rep. Perform three sets of 15 to 20 reps on each side.

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woman doing bodyweight lunges on yoga mat

The rotational lunge (or “twist lunge”) is a fantastic exercise that targets different lower-body muscles and engages your core, according to MasterClass. It also adds a rotational component for increased functional strength.

“Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands on your hips, then take a large step forward with your right foot, adjusting as needed to feel stable in your stance,” instructs McNulty. “Bend both knees at the same time to lower into the lunge until your knees form right angles. Pause and remain in the lunge position as you rotate your torso to the right until your elbows are as close to your thigh as possible right for your range of motion. Twist back to center, then push off your right foot to return to standing. Repeat the motion on the opposite side, stepping forward with your left foot and twisting to the left. Goal for three sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side.

V-up exercise

V-ups take core burn to the next level. To do this movement, McNulty says, “Lie on your back on an exercise mat, legs extended forward and arms extended overhead. Engage your core to lift your legs and upper body off the floor until your body form a “V” from your hips. Pause at the top, then slowly lower your arms and legs until they’re just above the floor before repeating the movement. Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps.

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