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Brrr! It’s cold out! But lucky for you, bulky sweaters and jackets are useful for hiding that annoying muffin top you picked up during the holidays.
If you want it gone by the time bathing suit season comes along, you need to start working now! Try these 5 exercises that not only help burn fat, but tighten up those tummy muscles and make those love handles disappear!
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1. Sit Ups
We know you hate doing them – but sit ups are one of the best exercises around for tightening the tummy – and even the most inexperienced couch potato can do them.
For proper form, lay down on your back, keeping your knees bent up so your feet are flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your neck, fingers laced so your support your head. To start, inhale deeply and then raise your chest up using your abdominal muscles while blowing the air out. Inhale again as you return to the beginning position.
For best results, do two sets of ten repetitions.
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2. Leg Lifts
Leg lifts are another exercise that can really help tone stomach muscles and erase the appearance of muffin tops. And I bet you can do more of them than you think!
Start by laying on your back; you can put your hands under your lower back, or reach overhead to hold on to a pole or table leg for support. The starting position is with both legs raised straight up. Inhale, then blow out as you lower them slowly, inhale as you raise back to the start position. Don’t lower them so much that you make your back arch.
For best results, do three sets of twelve repetitions.
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3. Interval Training
Interval training is one of the best ways to burn calories, which will help decrease over all body fat – including that spare tire! You can do interval training with any sort of aerobic exercise, like walking, swimming or biking.
Start with a 5-minute warm up stretch, then do whatever activity you choose at a high intensity for 60 seconds (High intensity would be about a 7 on a scale of 1-10). Then, switch to a lower intensity for 2 minutes, and continue to alternate until you’ve done 8 cycles – about 24 minutes. Do a 5-minute cool down at low intensity before finishing.
Keeping your core strong is important, and toning those muscles will help you create the appearance of a smaller waist. The plank is a great exercise for working the entire core.
Begin in push-up position, then bend your elbows and lower your torso until you’re supported on your forearms. Keep your body rigid, with your spine and legs in a straight line. Contract the muscles of your abdomen, like you’re bracing for a punch, and hold this for 30 seconds.
With time, you’ll find this exercise becomes easier; when it does, increase the hold time by 15 seconds at a time, until you reach a maximum of 3 minutes.
5. Overhead Swing
If you’ve got a kettlebell, you can use it to really work on those stomach muscles and get rid of your spare tire!
Start by standing with your feet spread shoulder width, with the bell between your feet and slightly to the front. Squat down to grab the handle, keeping your hips back. Swing the kettlebell backwards, like hiking a football – but not too far, you want it to stop just behind your knees. Keeping your back and arms straight, stand up, swinging the kettlebell in an smooth arc until it’s overhead. Your hips should press slightly forward. Bring the bell back down, again in an arc, while bending your knees and squatting to allow it once more to swing between your legs.
15 reps of this exercise will really tone those tummy muscles!
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