Along with losing weight, sculpting a slim and shapely waist is high on the list of many people’s exercise motivations. Traditional midsection moves like crunches do have the capability to strengthen waist muscles, but you’ll need to combine them with cardio workouts or high-intensity exercises if you want to burn off enough fat to see sleek, new muscles.
Jogging is more of a workout for the leg muscles than the waist muscles, but it has the tremendous asset of a high calorie burn, which can help torch belly fat. The Mayo Clinic states that one hour of jogging burns about 600 calories for a 160-pound person. Resistance training, including crunches and sit-ups, burns only 365. The bottom line is you need to burn calories as well as tone muscles to get a shapely midsection, so add some regular cardio sessions to your workouts.
Hula hoops are not just for kids! They’re a great choice for developing the midsection because hooping combines cardio with repetitive muscular movements. University of Notre Dame health counselor Maura Shenker writes that hooping strengthens the body’s entire core, including hip and pelvic muscles, whereas sit-ups and crunches isolate only certain portions of the abdomen. It also burns an average of 7 calories per minute.
Wood chops use the added resistance of a kettlebell or hand weight to challenge your body’s oblique muscles. To do it, you hold a weight in both hands and bring it to the outside of one knee as you sit in a slight squat. Then, in a sweeping diagonal motion, bring the weight across your body and up past your shoulders. To get the most benefit from wood chops, perform several sets, use a weight that’s heavy enough to feel challenging and keep your stomach muscles engaged at all times.
The Russian twist combines core balance and stability with an intense oblique workout. Because it also uses a hand weight, you can choose how much resistance to add to the move. You can also step it up by holding your legs in tabletop — raised off the ground with feet together and knees bent — instead of resting your heels on the ground.
Much like hooping, the plank pose targets your entire core, but it’s static rather than dynamic. Holding a plank pose will tighten and engage the muscles surrounding your waist, especially if you make an effort to keep your butt in line with your shoulders and heels. To burn extra calories and work toward losing fat as well, try dynamic plank exercises like mountain climbers and plank jacks.
References & Resources
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss – Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- University of Notre Dame: What Are the Fitness Benefits of Hula Hooping?
- American Council on Exercise: Hooping – Effective Workout or Child’s Play?
- Fit Sugar: Trim the Fat: 3 Moves to Slim the Obliques
- American Council on Exercise: 6 Strategies for Losing the Spare Tire