Belly fat is the most stubborn kind of fat for most of us to lose. Armed with the right advice, anyone can get the body they deserve and achieve the slim waistline they’ve always wanted.
The following 6 tips will have you well on your way to a new, sculpted physique and slim waistline in no time!
1. Buy a good treadmill with plenty of options…
Most of us get hung up on buying a treadmill with the most powerful motor, with the most belt speeds, and 20+ programs built in. While each of those is important for losing stubborn belly fat during your workouts, it’s also important to have features which help you measure your health and cumulative progress – displaying real time data while you run and storing it for future comparison.
Look for a treadmill with an interface which displays at minimum: calories burned, distance ran, and includes a heart rate monitor (wireless is best; but at the very least choose a model that works with common, separately-sold wireless chest strap monitors).
Lastly, look for a treadmill that’s known for its comfortable cushioning, to reduce impact on your joints to prevent overtraining and injury.
2. Ease in to your routine slowly to reduce overtraining and injury…
Overtraining is a beast that none of us want to tangle with. It makes you sore and irritable, and will kill any motivation you have leading into your next workout. Pushing your body too hard, too soon will also increase the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, sending your metabolism into “fight or flight mode”. While the myth that cortisol burns more muscle and halts the fat-burning-process in the body is completely false, it will cause your body to preserve that nasty belly fat (source).
Start off at a moderate walking pace for a week or two, to reduce the chances of injury and overtraining. Even if you’re an advanced outdoor runner: running on a treadmill is different from running on pavement, since the “ground” (i.e., belt) is rushing toward you instead of staying still, meaning you’ll be using muscles that aren’t yet conditioned for this type of training.
Building a habit takes about 4 weeks and any form of consistent exercise is better than exercising hard 1 day a week. I’ll take 7 days of moderate exercise over 1 day of intense training any time. Creating that habit will also condition your brain and make it less likely you’ll break that habit. With all that serotonin running through your body every day after a workout, you’ll be sure to have willpower to continue exercising when life gets tough.
3. Control your heart rate during your workouts…
If your heart is barely pumping, you’ll never start to burn fat – your body will just burn up its stored sugar (glycogen). The “fat burning zone” as it’s called is when your heart rate is anywhere from 60% – 85% of your maximum heart rate.
Use the chart on heart.org to find your target heart rate range: Target Heart Rates
Just as you don’t want your pulse to be too low, you also don’t want it getting too far above 80% of your working range. First, there’s the obvious risk to your health, but also the chance that your body will go into “fight or flight” mode, leading to the preservation of belly fat – the very thing we’re trying to burn!
4. Integrate interval training into your treadmill workouts…
This form of training has become all the rage in recent years. Once you have about a month of experience exercising on the treadmill, interval training will really help to kick your fat-burning efforts into high gear. This form of high intensity training also increases the amount of fat you burn for up to 24 hours after your workout ends. This is called the afterburn effect, or called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). What happens is after and an intensive workout, your muscles will need more oxygen when normal. Your body will consume more oxygen for a certain period time after the workout, which leads to more burned calories. In order to reach this level, you need to be working out in the correct way.
Interval training is performed by doing short bursts of high intensity effort, followed by similar short bursts of lower intensity effort.
Here’s a great example of a workout that nearly anyone at any fitness level can perform on a treadmill (estimated calories burned is about 300 every 30 mins):
*Start with a 3 minute warmup: 0% incline @ 2.5mph
1. 1 min: 15% incline @ 2.5mph
2. 1 min: 6% incline @ 2.5 mph
3. 1 min: 1% incline @ 4.5 – 8 mph
4. 1 min: 1% incline @ 2.5 mph – sidesteps
5. 1 min: 15% incline @ 3.5 – 4.5 mph
6. 1 min: 6% incline @ 2.5 mph
7. 1 min: 6% incline @ 6 mph
8. 1 min: 1% incline @ 2.5 mph
9. 1 min: 1% incline @ 2.5 – 3.5 mph – sidesteps
10. 1 min: 10% incline @ 4.5 – 6.5 mph
After you’ve finished a complete round; start back at #1 again and repeat the sequence three times for a total 33 minute interval workout (including your warmup time).
This is a great video that will walk you through a beginner interval workout on the treadmill:
Interval training should be at the top of your list for losing stubborn body fat. There are several studies that have proved rather conclusively, that the fat loss results from both walking and long distance jogging pale in comparison to those realized by people who regularly engage in interval training. Most of these studies indicate that interval training is particularly more effective at burning stubborn belly fat than regular aerobics or anaerobic weight/resistance training workouts (source).
5. Stop at the 45 minute mark…
Your body will start to convert muscle tissue to energy (called “catabolism”) at around the 40-minute mark of most moderate and high intensity workouts. You’ll still burn fat, but less of it, as muscle is easier to use for energy than body fat.
40 minutes will give you a great workout. However, remember you can cut this number down even more by doing high intensity interval training as suggested in tip #4 – while still burning the same amount of calories!
Remember that more isn’t always better. Your goal is to preserve your calorie-burning muscle mass, and reduce body fat stores.
6. Calories in – calories out…
It’s hard to give tips about losing belly fat without mentioning diet. Diet is at least 80% of the equation when it comes to burning stubborn belly fat. You can buy the very best top-of-the-line Nordic, Sole, or ProForm treadmill on the market, and still never win the battle of the bulge if the amount of calories you take in exceeds that which you burn during your workouts and other daily tasks.
Use this simple online calculator to find out how many calories you require on a daily basis just to maintain your current weight:
A pound of body fat is made up of 3500 calories. Aim to eat around 300 calories below your daily bodyweight requirements, then make a goal to burn at least 300 calories during a 30-40 minute treadmill workout; 5 days per week with 2 days off for recovery. Using this simple formula, you’ll burn a minimum of 1 pound of fat per week, which is the safest way to maintain muscle mass and burn stubborn body fat.
Bonus Tip: Stay the Course!
It’s easy to get discouraged when injury or overtraining occurs, or when you shed lots of weight only to get down to that last 5 or 10 pounds which, to your dismay seems determined to maintain a permanent home on your waistline.
Losing belly fat requires a bit of persistence on your part. Follow the 6 tips detailed for you above, stay the course, and you’ll get there in no time!
2nd Bonus Tip: Get Distracted!
While you need to be paying attention to your timings, especially if you are doing HIIT or any other timed exercise, the best way to get through your workout is to be distracted. I like listening to audiobooks, music or even watching a TV show. I keep a timer handy if I need to switch intensity levels every few minutes.
The treadmill is especially helpful because you set the speed and you can’t slow down. The timer is handy because even though you are distracted by music or a Netflix show, the timer should always remind you to change the speeds. You want to be distracted away from how tired you are or thinking about how much longer you need to go.