By Thomas Fahey, EdD and Steve Blechman
Until recently, scientists thought that it was impossible to spot reduce – target fat in specific areas of the body. But new research suggests that you could lose fat from specific sites using a combination of aerobics, training target muscle groups, increasing hormones that speed fat breakdown and use and increasing adipose tissue (fat) temperature during exercise.
Here’s a program designed to not only strip away bodyfat, but also target one of the most stubborn areas: Your midsection.
– This cardio program uses discovery by Japanese and Danish scientists, who found that two 30-minute, moderate-intensity aerobics programs with a 20-minute break between sessions burned more fat than one 60-minute exercise session.
– A revolutionary study by Dr. Bente Stallknecht and colleagues from the University of Copenhagen showed that spot reducing is possible. Exercising muscles generate heat and release chemicals that increase blood flow and fat oxidation in surrounding fat tissue. During intense exercise, the body releases stress hormones such as growth hormone, epinephrin and norepinephrine that promote fat oxidation (use of fat for fuel). These hormones circulate into the fat stores and speed fat breakdown in those tissues. Exercises that increase muscle and adipose tissue temperature, promote fat blood flow and boost stress hormone levels will help you lose fat in specific areas. You can spot reduce!
– The program involves four days of 60-minute cardio sessions. After your first 30 minutes, stop your cardio and do 20 minutes of abdominal exercises. After the 20 minutes, do a second bout of aerobic exercise for an additional 30 minutes.
– This program will burn at least 3,000 calories per week. Additionally, doing repeated bouts of exercise increases adrenaline that will turn up your metabolism for the rest of the day. The Danish study (Stallknecht and colleagues) that looked at spot reducing showed that increasing fat tissue blood flow boosted fat use in specific tissue. Also, exercising muscle releases chemicals that promote fat use in adjacent adipose (fat) tissue and mobilizes hormones that increase fat use.
– For added benefit, increase the level of difficulty during the second bout of aerobic exercise.
Hanging Leg Raises: Hang from a pull-up bar and, keeping your legs straight, lift your legs in front of you until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Slowly lower your legs to the starting position. Do not use momentum to lift your knees.
Bicycle Maneuvers: EMG studies show that the bicycle maneuver is one of the best exercises for activating the front (rectus abdominis) and side abs (obliques). Lie on your back with legs extended, hands placed across your chest. Pull your right knee in toward your chest while twisting the left shoulder toward your right knee. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other knee and elbow.
Vertical Crunches (not pictured): Lie on a bench on your back and place your hands loosely at ear level. Lift your legs so your feet are pointed at the ceiling and bend your knees slightly. Contract your rectus abdominus muscle – the large muscle on the front of your abs – and curl your trunk forward. Return to the starting position.
Reverse Crunches: This exercise requires an incline sit-up bench, but you can use a flat bench. Lie on a bench and stabilize your body by grabbing the bench or handles above your head. Bend your knees and lift your legs so that your feet are pointed at the ceiling.
Ball Crunches: Lie on your back on the ball until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and contract your abdominal muscles, raising your torso to no more than 45 degrees. Increase the stress on your oblique muscles by moving your feet closer together and placing your hands on your ears.
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