How do you go from skinny-fat to fit? Here's a seven-point plan from fitness advisor Craig Ballantyne.
1. Love handles will disappear fastest with two powerful techniques.
a. Interval training
A raft of recent studies have shown that interval training produced more belly fat loss than steady-state cardio.
b. Tight nutrition
"Listen," Ballantyne says, "if you want advanced results, you have to do advanced things, such as cutting all the processed carbohydrates from your diet."
Replace breakfast cereals and grain carbs with fruits, vegetables and nuts. "Losing your love handles isn't going to happen if you insist on treating yourself to a Frappacino, Pepsi and a slice of pizza every day," he says. "It means eating meals of lean protein, fibre-rich vegetables, and snacking on apples and nuts between meals."
2) A common mistake is too much cardio.
"It's not going to work as well as interval training," Ballantyne says.
This is related to another issue, he says: many guys don't have enough muscle in the first place.
Losing love handles, like bodybuilding, is a game of illusion. Muscle on your chest and back can essentially "hide" excess fat around your waist and hips.
"So most guys are skinny-fat, and then try to lose love handles with cardio only, and basically become even smaller versions of themselves, but still skinny-fat," says Ballantyne. "It's better to use intervals and weight training to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time."
3) Replace classic ab exercises like crunches and twists with interval training.
"Ab exercises like crunches are generally a waste of time," Ballantyne says.
4) But exercise is really not the main barrier. It's diet.
It's just too easy for most guys to cheat, Ballantyne says. "They have to realise that they have to have more discipline if they want results."
5) So what type of interval program to use?
Here's one Ballantyne uses to banish skinny-fat. After a thorough warm-up . . .
- 20 seconds of hard exercise such as sprinting or high-intensity burpees, 40 seconds recovery.
- Repeat 6 to 8 times.
- Finish with 5-10 minutes of cool-down exercise. If you have extra time, do 10 minutes of regular cardio pace.
6) Build up pecs, lats, deltoids and traps to create the illusion of smaller love handles.
"Most guys don't have enough muscle to focus on just losing weight," Ballantyne says, "so every guy must build some muscle in these areas."
7) How to build the muscle and lose fat at the same time?
Do two to three total body workouts per week.
- Use 5 exercises per workout (1 lower body, 1 upper push, 1 lower body single leg, 1 upper pulling, 1 total body ab exercise).
- Complete as a circuit and go through the circuit 3 times. Do 8-12 reps per exercise.
Finish with interval training.