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- Harvard Health Publications: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About it
- ACEFitness.org: What Is Functional Strength Training?
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Will Lifting Weights Make My Abs Look Better?
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Some types of weightlifting may be effective at taking off belly fat and trimming your abdominal area. Although more research is needed to prove the connection, it is true that the core body can benefit from specific weightlifting exercises that challenge abs to stabilize, tighten and hold strong.
It’s a common belief that weightlifting is an isolationist type of exercise that tones only certain parts of the body. For movements such as bicep curls, that notion holds true, but other weightlifting moves originate from the core and can help tone ab muscles as well as other major muscle groups.
Weightlifting has benefits beyond the cosmetic, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. By building muscle, it helps to guard against weight gain as people age, which can also reduce the risk of gaining subcutaneous abdominal fat. Weightlifting and traditional ab exercises, including crunches, have many of the same benefits, such as improving balance, stability and posture. Finally, weightlifting’s correlation with core stabilization makes it a type of functional strength training, which the American Council on Exercise classifies as a type of exercise that makes daily movements easier to perform.
Some weightlifting maneuvers are more beneficial for ab toning than others, especially those that directly involve core muscles. One example is pushups on dumbbells. After doing each pushup, keep your ab muscles tight, and row one dumbbell back. After another pushup, do a row with the opposite dumbbell. Using weights with traditional core exercises, such as Russian twists or side planks, can intensify the movements and work to strengthen abs more rapidly.
Weightlifting can help ab muscles look better, but it may take a while. Measuring weight isn’t the best way to gauge results, since lifting weights can add muscle, which weighs more than body fat. Instead, measure your waist prior to starting a new fitness routine that includes weightlifting. Stick with your routine for at least two months, and measure your waist again after each three-week period. Within a month to six weeks, you may begin to notice greater muscle definition and a smaller waist measurement.
Weightlifting can be an effective part of an exercise routine that works to streamline the midsection, but it’s not likely to work if it’s the only component. People who want toned abs and reduced belly fat should eat healthy, low-calorie foods and participate in aerobic activities as well as lift weights for better health and better appearances. Finally, speak with a physician before beginning any new exercise routine, and always observe proper workout moves from a personal trainer or fitness professional before trying them yourself.
Carly Schuna is a Wisconsin-based professional writer, editor and copy editor/proofreader. She has worked with hundreds of pieces of fiction, nonfiction, children's literature, feature stories and corporate content. Her expertise on food, cooking, nutrition and fitness information comes from a Level 1 personal training certification and years of in-depth study.