Contrary to what many people believe, it’s actually impossible to “spot reduce” certain areas of your body where fat has accumulated.
For instance, doing squats will not directly lead to fat loss in your rear, and doing crunches or using an abs wheel won’t actually allow you to see the area around your midsection suddenly vanish. “Fat in your body is like gas in your gas tank,” as Todd Miller, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., professor of nutrition and exercise sciences at George Washington University, explained to The Washington Post. “Thinking you can reduce fat from your stomach alone is like saying you want to use gas only from the right side of your gas tank.”
As such, if you’re looking to lose fat anywhere on your body, our own trainer, Tim Liu, C.S.C.S., says that you need to be targeting the fat across the whole of your body. When it comes to fat loss, he says, “there’s no getting around the basics: strength training regularly, getting in regular cardio (even if it’s just taking a few brisk walks every week) to offset your sitting, eating a healthy diet at a calorie deficit, getting plenty of sleep, and drinking enough water each day.”
But to ensure that you’re losing fat where you want to and seeing results in even the most stubborn areas, there are a few exercise tricks you can be doing at the gym, says Liu—along with other leading trainers—that will help you reach your goals. Follow these tricks—and combine them you’re your nutrition plan—for targeting fat loss across the whole of your body. And for more great exercise advice, check out this One Trendy Celeb Exercise Trick You Can Try at Home.
Far too many people think that you need to be performing tons of cardio to get a lean body. This simply isn’t true. You need to hit the weight room.
“Adding resistance to your workout with weight training can help the body preserve fat-free mass, which has been shown to increase the number of calories your body burns while resting,” Steven Virtue, Fitness Development Manager at Total Fitness, explained to Daily Star. “Consistent weight training that is safe yet challenging for your body will also help you to build lean muscle—this, combined with the fat loss, helps to create a more toned and sculpted physique.” And for more great exercise advice, don’t miss these Lean-Body Secrets from Exercise Experts Over 50.
“One tip I always give my clients who are trying to lose fat is to stay moving as much as possible throughout the day,” says Joshua Lafond, a NASM-certified personal trainer and founder of Healthy Gym Habits. “Staying moving or even standing helps you burn a lot more calories when compared to sitting at a traditional desk.”
Liu agrees. “When you’re not at the gym, you need to move around as much as possible and get in plenty of walks, which will help you burn even more fat and aid in your recovery.”
If you’ve got a desk job and you’re not able to be on your feet all day, Lafond advises you to follow this checklist: Take a 10-minute walking break every two hours of your day, use a standing desk, always use the stairs when given the choice, and take as many of your work phone calls while walking as you can. And for more great exercise advice, check out the Essential Yoga Stretches for People Over 40.
“Not only is HIIT a great way to boost your mood, but research shows that the increased metabolic rate, caused by strenuous and high intensity exercise, can last up to 38 hours, meaning your body will burn significantly more calories in a resting state,” Virtue explained. “There are simple and short HIIT exercises that you can start with: squats, sit ups, burpees and mountain climbers are all fantastic exercises to try for 30 second intervals with a 20 second rest.”
According to celebrity trainer Joey Thurman, CES, CPT, FNS, you can enhance your fat burn by walking shortly after you eat a big meal. “Taking a 10-30 minute walk after your meals of the day will help flatten that stomach,” he says. “Why? Well, walking after will help with nutrient absorption, lower insulin response, and help distribute your calories as fuel instead of fat.”
There’s no shortage of science that backs him up. Walking after a meal will help your digestion, reduce your blood sugar levels, lower your stress, and help you develop healthier habits. For more on this, check out the Secret Side Effects of Walking Right After a Meal, Says Science.
“Too much vigorous exercise without enough recovery days can lead to overtraining which actually causes your body to store more fat, due to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol,” Virtue explained to Daily Star.
So he advises you to listen to your body. “If you feel particularly lethargic or achy then vigorous exercise is probably not the best idea. Instead, consider an activity that will allow you to rest while also benefiting your mood, such as reading or meditation.”
Be sure to get good sleep, as well. “Aim for at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night and ensure that you have an optimum environment for falling into a deep state of sleep,” he said.
“For better or for worse, fat distribution is genetically determined—we can do nothing about it—and each one of us have different stubborn fat areas,” says Maxwell Kamlongera, of Mx Fitness. “So when we lose fat, the areas on our bodies that contain the least amount of fat start trimming down first, and the areas with the most fat will be the last to go.”
Assuming diet your diet is healthy, “the fat you are working to get rid of will eventually melt off with time and commitment,” he says. And for more great exercise advice, check out The 15-Second Exercise Trick That Can Change Your Life.