Archives February 2014

3 Exercises to Tone Your Belly

Use the "Melt Belly Fat Success Tip " to tone your belly.

Tone Your Belly with Crunches, Planks and Your Bicycle

Once you have lost your belly fat, it is time to start working on toning muscles around your middle. While there are numerous different exercises that target the belly area, these three are the tried, true and get results:

  • Crunches
  • Planks
  • The Bicycle

The nice thing about these exercises is that none of them require any equipment. However, you can use a yoga or exercise mat to make you more comfortable.

Tone Your Belly with Crunches

Crunches are similar to sit-ups, but not as stressful on the back and neck. To start, lie on your back on the floor (or a mat if you have one) with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor shoulder width apart. Keep your hands across your chest or locked behind your head.

Inhale and lift your head and shoulders by tightening your abs so that your shoulder blades are just off of the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds, exhale and slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position. Do as many crunches as you can right now with an eventual goal of two sets of 10 to 20 crunches per set.

Tone Your Belly with Planks

There are several variations of the plank; the one explained here is the full plank. Start by lying on the floor face down; your forearms, elbows, hands and stomach should touch the floor. Tighten your abs and lift your body off the floor. Only your forearms, elbows and feet should now touch the floor.

While in this position, your body should be in a straight line from your shoulders to your feet; avoid the tendency to raise your buttocks or to arch your back. This defeats the purpose of doing planks.

Hold this pose for 10 to 30 seconds. Relax and slowly drop to the starting position. Work up to the point where you can hold the pose for a full minute. Do as many repetitions as you can.

Tone Your Belly with Your Bicycle

The starting position is to lie on your back with your fingers locked behind your head and legs bent at the knees. Now lift your left shoulder blade off of the floor, twist slightly and bring your right knee up toward your left elbow. At the same time, straighten your left leg. Now switch sides by straightening your right leg, bending your left leg, and bringing the right elbow up to the left knee. Keep alternate sides in a pedaling (bicycling) motion. Strive to complete 8 to 12 repetitions.

While there are several more exercises that target the abdominal muscles, these three will get you well on your way to having 6-pack abs and looking great. Start working your abs today so you’ll be ready to show them off in a bikini or short top this summer.

You can find more “Belly Fat Success Tips” in our weight loss category found at and while you’re they, be sure to subscribe to our monthly fitness newsletter and be kept up to date on the latest developments in the world of health and fitness.

3 Causes of Excess Belly Fat

Melt excess belly fat with success tip 1.

Most of us have belly fat to some extent or another. However, when it gets excessive, it can begin to cause health issues; some can be serious or even deadly. So to keep from getting too much belly fat, you have to know what causes it. Here are three main causes of excess belly fat:

Bad Genes Can Cause Excess Belly Fat

I listed genetics first because it is the hardest to control. If you are pre-disposed to accumulate belly fat based on your DNA structure, all you can do is try to control it the best you can through healthy eating and vigorous exercising. It will mean you’ll have to work a little harder than other people to see the same results, but it can be done through diligence and dedication.

Poor Diet Can Cause Excess Belly Fat

Today, most people do not eat properly by choice. We rely too heavily on processed and fast food, both of which are not good for us.

Instead, we should focus on a high protein/low carb diet by mainly eating these foods:

  • fresh fruits – berries, apples, melons and peaches
  • fresh vegetables – asparagus, cauliflower, cucumbers and cabbage
  • whole grains – whole wheat, oats, brown rice and quinoa
  • lean protein – chicken, turkey, tuna, fish, eggs and lean cuts of meat

The type of food we eat is not the only reason we get fat; how much we eat (i.e. portion control) is also important. One trick many people use is to put food on a smaller plate. It tricks your mind into thinking you ate more than you did. Remember these four simple “rules of thumb” when it comes to portion control size:

  • 3 ounces of lean meat = deck of cards
  • 1/2 cup of fresh fruit = 1/2 baseball
  • 1 cup of salad = 1 baseball
  • 1 cup of cereal flakes = a fist

Lack of Exercise Can Cause Excess Belly Fat

Not only is a poor diet the cause of us gaining excess belly fat; a sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor also. When combined with a diet that relies heavily on processed and fast food – both high in saturated fat and calories – your body will store the extra calories it doesn’t need as fat. In many people that fat gets stored as belly fat – the worst kind of fat.

Fortunately, belly fat is one of the first fats to burn off once you start exercising. Just 30 minutes a day of vigorous activity, such as walking, running or swimming (and eating healthy) will start burning off excess belly fat. Done diligently, you should start to see results in two weeks.

Because excess belly fat is so dangerous, it is imperative that you start eating healthy and exercising. As in other types of weight loss, it comes down to burning more calories than you take in over a period of time; burn 3,500 more calories per week than you eat, you’ll lose a pound. Eventually healthy eating and exercising will become part of your lifestyle and you won’t think twice about it.

You can find more “Belly Fat Success Tips” in our weight loss category found at and while you’re they, be sure to subscribe to our monthly fitness newsletter and be kept up to date on the latest developments in the world of health and fitness.

Strength Training Exercises

There's a few routes you can take to learning strenht training exercises

There may be hundreds of strength training exercises out there, so listing them all will be next to impossible. And every day, you’re also likely to read about how a professional trainer has developed a new variation of a particular workout that promises to be the most effective of them all. It just adds up to the confusion.

Use an Instructor to Learn Strength Training Exercises

If you are new to strength training, the first thing you need to learn is how to do strength training exercises properly. If you can afford it, get a qualified fitness instructor who can teach you all the necessary techniques. The instructor can take note of your fitness goals and also consider your limitations, so that you are properly aligned and you execute the exercise correctly.

Use a Video to Learn Strength Training Exercises

If you can’t get an instructor to help, don’t just rely on written descriptions of the exercise. “Google” each exercise you read about and watch the instructional videos of how they are done. Try to do each exercise slowly at first until you master the movement. Your focus should be on perfecting the technique first, rather than trying to be as fast as you can or lift as much as you can.

Example of a Video on Strength Training Exercises:

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Strength Training Exercises Using Equipment

You should also make sure that you know how to use various machines and weights properly. There are many kinds of weights used in strength training, such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, stability balls, medicine balls, and benches. And there are also other machines which replicate rowing. Again, your best bet here is to have an expert demonstrate the proper techniques for each type of equipment or follow along with a video.

Now we come to one of the more difficult aspects, which is choosing the strength training exercises that you will perform. Opinions on this matter are quite varied, so it all depends on what you can actually do and what you would prefer to do. It also depends on your skill level, and you also should note that each exercise targets specific muscles in your body.

For beginners, you need to do basic exercises first before you progress to the more advanced ones. Chest presses, bicep curls, triceps kickbacks or extensions, overhead presses for the shoulders, and reverse flies for the back are great for your arms and upper body.

Lunges and Squats are also common exercises for the lower body, but beginners with weak joints may not find them suitable. The better alternatives include side-lying or standing leg lifts which focus on the inner and outer thigh, hamstrings curl for the back of the thigh, and quadriceps extensions for the front of the thigh.

You should also remember to strengthen your core muscles as well, with exercises like the planks. Planks are very popular, as they work on the core as well as the shoulders and lower back. The core muscles are those muscles in your abs and lower back area. You absolutely need a stable core, especially if you engage in strength training. Even if you have extremely strong arms and legs, you can easily hurt yourself doing a bicep curl if you don’t have a stable core.

If you decide to hire a fitness instructor, follow their advice if it makes sense to you. If you decide to learn from videos in your home, a good start would be to sign up for the Newsletter and get three different workout programs that you can use to learn strength training exercises from.