Hitting the gym, but can’t blast away that jelly belly? It’s time to rethink your fat-burning fitness plan! According to recent research, scientists say aerobic exercise is better than resistance training if you want to shift stomach flab – and running is the best belly-blaster of all.
The exercise of choice for more Hollywood stars than you could shake a skinny stick at, running has been found to significantly reduce visceral and liver fat and improve the risk of heart disease and diabetes, whilst resistance training, like weight lifting, doesn’t deliver the same benefits.
‘Resistance training is great for improving strength and increasing lean body mass,’ says lead author and exercise psychologist Cris Slentz. ‘But if you are overweight and you want to lose belly fat, aerobic exercise is the better choice because it burns more calories.’
So with bikini season just weeks away, there’s never been a better time to put on those trainers, hit the treadmill and sprint your way to a scorching new body!
1. Running - the best fat burner there is
If you’re a running newbie, or would rather do anything that jog to stay fit, focus on this one key fact – you’ll never see a fat marathon runner. “People think jogging is not for them” says Personal Trainer Matt Roberts, who counts uber-buff celebs like Naomi Campbell amongst his clients. “But it’s the simplest method of exercise that burns the highest amount of calories.” Sounds like a total no-brainer to us!
2. Ready, steady – go!
If you want to jog, but find you get out of breath quickly, walk for four minutes and jog for one, repeating five times. As you get fitter, aim to run for longer each time – you’ll soon be running for 10 minutes or more in one go without even looking at your watch.
3. Let’s Go Outside
Don’t just rely on the treadmill. As temperatures start to drop, take advantage of the cooler mornings and evenings. “Running outdoors can burn 30-40% more calories than in the gym, as you fight wind resistance and tackle hilly terrain” says Roberts. ‘It also has the greatest feel-good factor.’ With the right shoes and clothing, even humid days can feel invigorating.
4. Stick to the plan!
Roberts recommends always thinking about your route in detail ahead of the run - how long it should take, which part is going to be hard, the bit that’s a little easier, and where you’ll need to push yourself.”’Know your strategy before you run to give yourself focus” he says. “That way you can go for it 100%.”
5. Mix and match
Dubai is notoriously flat, but changing terrain and speed can make a big difference to how you burn fat. And while Matt suggests running up hills – of which there are few, in this city – sprinting up and down staircases, or running on sand provides the same kind of workout boost. ‘Some days use hills, some days run flat and long, and some days short and fast,’ advises Roberts, who warns not to do the same route more than twice a week. ‘Mentally, you’ll get less fatigued, and your body will get fitter by adapting.’
6. Use your arms!
Running’s not all about your legs. ‘Drop your shoulders and keep your arms relaxed as you move them backwards and forwards,’ says Roberts. ‘Pumping them will give you more power in the legs.’ Moreover, Hollywood trainer David Kirsch, who has helped buff everyone from Supermodel Heidi Klum to Anne Hathaway into shape, says that swinging your arms will ‘get the body’s lymphatic system pumping, helping eliminate toxins’.
7. Forward thinking
Leaning slightly forward will help you run more effectively. ‘Stand in a neutral position and don’t hunch up,’ advises Roberts. ‘Keep your core strong by tightening your abdominals and squeezing your buttocks, and focus on what’s ahead.’
8. Please don’t stop the music
Dedicated running tracklists on your I-Pod are invaluable for getting the most out of your workout. Whether you’re pounding the pavement to hardcore dance music, orchestral classics or heavy metal, running at a consistent pace will help shed fat faster. Time your steps to the beat of the music you’re listening to, going for fewer beats per stride to speed up. Your breathing can also help. Breathe in for three or four strides, then out for three or four.
9. Listen to your body
Able to hear your feet hitting the floor despite wearing headphones? You could be setting yourself up for an injury. “If your feet are slapping the floor, you’re landing too flat, which can be hard on the knees,’ explains Roberts. ‘You should have a quiet stride. The heel goes first, but only just, before you naturally roll on to the balls of the feet. This will make you go faster - landing completely on the heel will slow you down.”
10. Stress Less!
Whether you’re fretting about fitting into your wedding dress, or just want to look better on the beach, running can help minimise your body image issues in more ways than one. Aside from working the core, the lower back, your love handles and oblique areas, running can help you cope with your emotions. “Jogging increases your oxygen levels and endorphins, so is a great leveller when you’re stressed,” says Roberts. Therapy and thinner thighs? Pass us those trainers!