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Are You Doing All the Wrong Exercises to Lose Belly Fat?

Posted May 06 2010 8:05pm

In This Issue:

By Craig Ballantyne

I often get asked, “What’s the best way to burn fat and lose my belly?… Do aerobics work better than interval training?… Does resistance training help at all?”

Many personal trainers aren’t even sure. They will guess that the best way to lose belly fat is “crunches”, “sit-ups”, or “aerobic cardio”. But the truth is none of these works best or even works at all!

When it comes to exercise, if you want to lose stomach fat fast, you need to increase the intensity of your workout by using both resistance training and interval training.

Australian researchers, such as Professor Steve Boucher, even believe that interval training can lead to a spot reduction of belly fat. That’s something that no amount of abdominal training can do!

Time is also a factor. While bodybuilders and young guys without any cares in the world can spend an hour a day on cardio and sometimes get results men and women who only have 45 minutes, 3 times per week for exercise just can’t depend on slow cardio workouts to burn belly fat.

Let’s take a look at the perfect workout plan to get you maximum fat burning results in minimum workout time. Here are the keys.

First, start with a circuit of bodyweight exercises to prepare your body for a fat burning workout. Three good ones are bodyweight squats, pushups, and lunges. This warmup should only take 5 minutes.

Follow that up with supersets of resistance training using multi-muscle exercises for maximum metabolism boosting. A superset is two exercises done back to back with minimal rest between each. A great superset is dumbbell squats and dumbbell chest presses. This works so much better for post-exercise calorie burning than slow cardio workouts. It will lead to more belly fat burning as well.

After 15 minutes of resistance training, finish with 15-20 minutes of interval training. You don’t need a lot of intervals to get great fat burning results. Start with a 5-minute warmup. Do one interval at 60 seconds working at a slightly harder than normal cardio pace. Then recover for 60 seconds at an easy pace. Repeat 5 more times. Finish with a 5-minute cool down.

With that workout schedule, you’ll be in and out of the gym in 45 minutes, three times per week. Compare that to what most people do, which is run, jog, cycle, or use the cardio machines for 45 minutes straight. Sure, that will burn calories, but it doesn’t build a better body.

Men and women love the fast fat-burning results they get from short-burst exercise sessions. Remember, your body was not meant to run marathons. Instead, it was meant to perform quick bursts of exercise, and that is why resistance training and interval training sculpt a better body than long, slow cardio workouts.

Of course, your diet is also essential if you want to lose belly fat. In fact, I always give more credit to nutrition for being a key factor in fat burning than I do exercise. No matter what you do, you can’t out-train a bad diet! So cut excess sugar from your diet, and increase your protein and fiber intake (through fruits, vegetables, and nuts).

With the right exercise and a proper diet, you’ll shed that unwanted fat in no time!

[Ed. Note: Craig Ballantyne is an expert consultant for Men's Health magazine. If you're looking to burn fat, build muscle and quickly step into the body you have always wanted with just three workouts each week, check out Craig's fat-loss system, click here. ]

Happy CoupleReverse Aging:

By Joseph McCaffrey, MD, FACS

Some people think age management medicine strives to help people live longer. But who wants to add years to their life if those years are spent being feeble and infirm in a nursing home?

Quality of life matters. In age management circles, it’s called squaring the curve.

It works like this. Imagine graphing vitality over time. Vitality is on the vertical axis. A high level represents vibrant health and vitality. Zero means death. The horizontal axis represents time the longer a person lives, the further out their graph extends.

Our lives can be represented by this graph. Eventually, for all of us, it goes to zero we die. The points on the graph before we die tell a lot about whether we truly lived or just existed. For too many people, the vitality line slumps toward zero long before they die. It’s a downward curve, representing an increasingly miserable life.

Sudden death shows up as a rapid drop to zero. But someone living a vital life has a curve that stays at a high level for a long time. A graph like this has a right angle in it. Hence, if someone is taking steps to improve their health, they’re “squaring the curve”.

Although we may not want to contemplate our own mortality, it makes sense to take a moment to think of what we want our vitality curve to look like. A healthy lifestyle will boost our vitality and minimize many of the changes previously thought to be part and parcel of aging.

Make decisions right now that will help you live better as well as longer. For example, even if you begin at age 40, eating 6 ounces more of vegetables a day increases your life expectancy by a year!1 That’s an amazing improvement. But better yet, eating more vegetables supports your immune system, reduces your risk of cancer, and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Take responsibility for your own vitality. Make decisions and take actions that keep you alive and vital as time goes on. Square your curve.


[Ed. Note: Joseph F. McCaffrey, MD, FACS is a board-certified surgeon with extensive experience in alternative medicine, including certification as a HeartMath Trainer. His areas of expertise include mind-body interaction and cognitive restructuring. Dr. McCaffrey strives to help people attain their optimum level of vitality through attention to all aspects of wellness. For more information, click here. ]

Salad plateHealthy Recipes:

By Laura LaValle, RD, LD

This light refreshing salad featuring soy or goat’s milk yogurt is a healthy take on an Indian classic. It’s also the perfect choice for those who want to avoid cow’s milk dairy products. The nutty, delicate taste of tahini makes it doubly delicious!

Nutrient Spotlight:

Excellent source of calcium and vitamin C
Good source of vitamin B6, folate, and manganese


2 cucumbers, sliced into 1/4 in. thick rounds
2-3 green onions chopped
1 cup plain yogurt (soy or goat’s milk)
1 tsp. tahini or almond butter
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Dash of soy sauce (optional)

Seasonings to taste: a dash of salt, and pepper, and cumin (Cumin is the seasoning traditionally used in Raita, an Indian dish consisting of cucumber and yogurt.)

*Use all organic ingredients for optimal nutrition.


Stir tahini, soy sauce, garlic, and lemon juice into yogurt. Pour over cucumbers and onions, stir, and enjoy. You can also add tomatoes to this recipe, which is especially good in the summer when the tomatoes are beautifully ripened. The versatile yogurt sauce can be used as a salad dressing or vegetable dip. Makes two servings.

Recipe Nutrient Analysis:

105 calories, 3 g. total fat, 1 g. saturated fat, 0.5 g. monounsaturated fat, 0.7 g polyunsaturated fat, 3 mg. cholesterol, 15 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. fiber, 8g. sugar, 7 g. protein, 240 IU vitamin A, 0.2 mg vitamin B6, 14 mg vitamin C, 45 mcg folate, 260 mg calcium, 70 mg phosphorus, 100 mg. sodium, 385 mg. potassium, 32 mg magnesium, 0.3 mg manganese

Recipe adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites (Random House, 1996).

[Ed. Note: Laura B. LaValle, RD, LD is presently the director of dietetics nutrition at LaValle Metabolic Institute (formerly part of Living Longer Institute). She offers personal nutritional counseling at LMI for clients who need help with their diet in relation to illness or disease. Laura also provides educational services in the areas of health promotion, wellness, and disease prevention. To learn more, click here. ]

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