What's Healthier: Cardio or Spot Training?
“I want to shrink my muffin top.”
Cardio. “Muffin top” is a cutesy name for a not-so-cute problem: the roll of flab that hangs over the top of your jeans. It happens when extra fat deposits in your midsection after youve had a baby, or as the result of stress, lack of sleep, or poor eating habits, exercise physiologist Michele Olson, PhD, explains. Unfortunately, this becomes even more of a concern as you get older. “Women close to menopause start storing more of their total fat in the midsection” Olson says. “We dont need extra fat around our hips for pregnancy anymore.”
Cardio is the proven best line of fat-blasting defense. “You have to burn enough calories to lose fat no matter where it is,” Olson says. She recommends 45 minutes of cardio at least four days a week: “Fast-walking, stair-climbing, jogging, and using an elliptical are tops.”
Also, be sure to tone your midsection while you burn fat. “Core-based exercises like Pilates improve abdominal strength,” Olson says. “Moves like the Hundred and Double-Leg Stretch hit the transverse abdominis, the deep, stabilizing corset muscle.” The classic Bicycle is good for shrinking a muffin top, too, says LaReine Chabut, author of the new Core Strength for Dummies. Her Rx: Work up to 10 minutes a day of the Bicycle, along with daily cardio routines.