There are few things as frustrating as exercising consistently and diligently and seeing results everywhere except your belly, the part that you have been targeting the most.
We spoke to fitness and health expert Ronald Abvajee and asked him to share the mistakes people make that hinder their progress in reducing belly fat.
While emphasising that there is a lot more to discuss where this topic is concerned, Abvajee shared the five most common mistakes that people make.
Focusing on the wrong type of exercise
Abvajee says that many people focus only on ab exercises, instead of diversifying their routine.
“The most traditional of these is the ab crunch, but in reality, strength-training exercises work the muscle. So we create micro-tears, which leads to the muscle getting stronger and increasing in size, but it doesn’t burn off the layer of fat that covers the mkhaba region,” he explains.
“You’re going to get a firmer ab area, but it’s not going to go down, because that layer of fat is still there.”
Not doing cardio frequently enough
Are you doing enough cardio and is it of sufficiently high intensity to make an impact?
“For example, if you always jog at a very steady pace, the intensity is not enough to shift your body into the fat-burning zone. What you need to do is incorporate high-intensity interval training into your cardio sessions,” he explains.
For example, Abvajee says that you should run for a kilometre just to warm the body up. Then start looking at lamp poles, or any other object on your route as a landmark, and increase your pace to a medium sprint for the next two landmarks, before going back to jogging at a slower pace.
“This will elevate your body’s need for energy, which in turn shifts it into the fat-burning zone,” Abvajee says.
Trying to focus fat loss on a particular area
Abvajee explains that your body burns fat wherever it wants and you don’t have the liberty to choose where, so focusing on one specific region, like the belly area, is a futile exercise.
“We can’t focus fat on a particular area. You body will burn fat from wherever it deems it necessary and usually your arms will get shaped and toned quicker, followed by your chest, your legs and eventually, your abs. You have to be consistent and stick to your regimen until you start seeing results in your ab area,” Abvajee explains.
He further explains that our bodies naturally hold on to fat in the ab region as a mechanism to protect our internal organs.
READ MORE: Six of the worst pieces of fitness advice
Sticking to one particular form of exercise
Abvajee says that one of the biggest mistakes people make is only doing one type of exercise.
“If you like running and only do that, you will initially see results, but in the long-term, your body will adapt to the type of activity you’ve been doing and will no longer produce results. So you need to add atchaar and masala to your routine by varying it,” Abvajee says.
“If you’re used to running, do a kickboxing class; if you’re only doing weights, vary the way you do the weights. Rather go for lighter weights instead of heavier ones so that you can challenge your body in a different way – lighter weights, higher reps; heavy weights, lower reps.”