Melting the Miff-Worthy Muffin Top
by Jules Rosenthal
As women we tend to fiercely and frustratingly hold on to belly fat. The dirty truth is that you are only going to banish that belly fat by changing two things: diet and exercise. There is a myth that 1,000 sit ups a day or 7 minutes of planks a day will help get you the fab abs you dream of. But PLEASE don’t get frustrated when these things don’t work. Surely you are getting a stronger core but nothing will change to the naked eye (and the naked abs) unless you tighten up the diet; lose the refined carbs, focus on high fiber and low sugar foods to beat the bloat and to tone the tummy down. Hydrate. Do not eat processed foods. Avoid refined sugars. Avoid, pasta, rice, sugar and white flour. I am constantly saying to my clients, “you cannot out-train a bad diet”. Your body reflects the hard work you put in as well as the fuel you use. To melt the muffin top means eating smart and training smart. Now that you have the diet, it is time to train smart.
I have been asked many time by many people to only focus on the core in my personalized workouts for them. My response is always the same. In order to focus on your core, I am going to give you a challenging full body workout each time we meet. Muscle burns fat three times faster than fat, so muscle building is the most effective way to burn all over fat (let me repeat, “ALL OVER FAT”. You cannot spot burn or spot train; we lose and gain proportionally head to toe so training head to toe is most important to burn and build efficiently). That said, it is important to train the core outside of balance exercises and full body exercises.
Here are a few of my favorite muffin-top targeting moves that are important to keep as part of your routine.
Plank: The plank is a perfect way to engage the deep transverse abdominal muscles. These are the deepest in the core and act as a girdle as they hold everything together (read; tighten). Be sure to keep the head straight and aligned wth the shoulders, hands directly under the shoulders, spine straight, hips square and as flat a position as you can.
Side plank: The side plank will also hit the TVA in addition to the obliques or also affectionately known as the love handles. The same principles apply here as the regular plank– you want to be as straight and aligned as possible.
Reverse crunch: This is really about control. The reverse crunch is a move that will target that mean muffin but also helps the upper abs as well. The key here is to go very slowly and remember that you don’t have a large range of motion, so focus on really pulling that navel in towards the spine. Lie down with legs fully extended and arms to the sides of your torso, palms on the floor.
Raise your legs (bent) so that thighs are perpendicular to the floor and feet become parallel to the floor. Pull the belly in towards the spine and push it into the floor as firmly as possible. Lower slowly.
Ball twist: This oblique trimmer and balance enhancer is a great way to whittle the waist. Holding a medicine ball or dumbbell in your hands, twist from side to side, keeping the back straight. it is important here to move from the torso, not from the shoulders. For an added challenge, lift the feet up off the ground.
Squat to press rotation: More and more research is showing that full body moves, not ab isolating ones, are partly responsible for the trimming the waist line. This one targets the legs and shoulders and really tightens that mid section. Start with weights in your hands and lower into a squat, leaning back into your heels, drawing the belly in and the pushing the bum out. As you raise your hips, pushing up from the heels, push the dumbbells over your head, turning your torso to the right side by using your midsection muscles to turn. This is a fluid movement. Lower the weights and repeat the movement, this time turning to your left.
Plank with a pull in: Here is an advanced version of your basic plank that will be sure to hit the right spot. Begin in a standard plank. From here, slowly pull the right knee in towards the right elbow touching the two if possible and holding for a full second. Then do the left side.
Try out these muffin top melters but remember: they are not magic! Without a sensible diet, full body strength work and cardio, that tricky tire is going to stick around so be sure to keep your routine (not your tummy) well rounded!
Jules Rosenthal played sports though wasn’t always an athlete until she found where were greatest strengths were: running, weight training and coaching. She also had a short career in the culinary arts before changing course and earning her MSW in 2005. Not too shortly thereafter, though, the lure of the fitness called again, and she returned to the health-world by getting her ACE certification in 2009. Jules resides in the Boston area — she is a No Excuse mother of two, licensed clinical social worker, avid runner/fitness freak and made her vision come true when she started her own personal training company, Ripped by Jules in 2013.
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