There are plenty of reasons why you’d want less visceral fat—otherwise known as “belly fat”—around your midsection. Sure, you’d have a better figure, but you’d also be losing the insidious fat that interferes with your liver function and raises your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. According to a Mayo Clinic study of 650,000 adults, greater waist circumference means greater risk of death at pretty much every turn.
So how do you get rid of it? Well, the old saying that “abs are made in the kitchen” still largely holds true. To maximize your results, you’ll need to eat a diet rich in whole foods and to drink plenty of water. (For more dieting tips for fat loss, see here.) But the best way of targeting your belly fat in the gym—or working out at home—is to engage in some interval training.
Related: This One Workout Drives 29 Percent More Fat Loss, Says Science
“HIIT is an extremely effective and efficient form of exercise, elevating your heart rate quickly and burning a significant amount of calories in a short amount of time,” Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, CISSN, an exercise physiologist and author of The Micro-Workout Plan: Get the Body You Want without the Gym in 15 Minutes or Less a Day, told us. “In addition to torching major calories in a short time frame, there is an additional ‘afterburn effect,’ where your body continues to burn calories after your workout as it attempts to return to homeostasis.”
When it comes to melting more belly fat, the important thing, he says, is that you stick to a consistent schedule. “In the end, weight loss in general and belly fat specifically both come down to frequency and consistency of cardiovascular exercise,” says Holland. “Since lack of time is one of the major reasons people give for failure to adhere to an exercise program, the short duration HIIT workouts with the high caloric expenditure is an extremely effective solution. You can essentially get the same results in half the time with HIIT workouts.”
What follows is an amazing HIIT routine, courtesy of Holland, that follows the Tabata Protocol of 20 seconds of working out followed by 10 seconds of rest, which should be performed five times total. “To be truly effective the exercises must be performed at a very high speed and intensity while maintaining proper form,” he says. “The plyometric elements of three of the four exercises will help ensure a challenging overall workout.”
So read on, and good luck. And for more amazing workout advice, don’t miss The Crazy-Popular Walking Workout That Totally Works, Say Experts.
“It’s a good idea to do a 2-3 minute warm up and cool down as well, such as running in place or jumping jacks.”
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“Standing with feet shoulder width apart, jump down into a squatting position with both feet out to the side, then jump back to starting position.”
“Standing with fee shoulder width apart, drop down quickly into a plank position, do a push-up, jump back up to starting position, then jump straight up reaching your arms overhead.” For more great fitness news, make sure you’re aware of the One Huge Side Effect of Going for More Casual Walks, According to New Study.
“Stand in a lunge position with your right leg forward and left back behind you. Jump into the air, bringing your left leg forward and right leg back into a lunge position. Repeat quickly back and forth.”
“Assume a plank position, then alternate driving your right knee to your chest, then left knee as fast as you can, essentially running in place in a push-up position.” And for more great workout advice, make sure you’re aware of The Single Most Effective Way to Work Out Every Day, Say Psychologists.