New guidance has us thinking about our waistlines.
The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says adults with a body mass index under 35 should ensure their waist measurement is less than half their height. For example, if you are 5ft 5in, you might want your waist to be 32.5 inches or less. This isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach as we all carry weight differently, but it could be a good starting point.
People who have more weight in their middle can be more likely to struggle with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
A slim waist alone is not necessarily enough to ensure you are fit and healthy, but putting more effort into exercise and a healthy diet is no bad thing. If you have any concerns about your health and fitness, speak to your doctor.
Stomach exercises could help trim your waistline, with Georgie Spurling, fitness coach and founder of GS Wellness (gsmethod.co.uk), saying: “Having a strong core makes you feel incredibly strong all round. In day-to-day things like sitting at your desk, walking up stairs and more, it makes a huge difference to how you carry yourself.”
While “you cannot spot reduce fat”, she says: “We can target certain areas with strengthening moves to appear more defined. Body fat percentage plays a big role in this. If you are lean, your muscles will appear more visible. So nutrition is key.”
By having a healthy, balanced diet and focusing on waist-training exercises, you might be able to trim your midriff and feel stronger. These are some exercises you can do – without having to do hundreds of sit-ups…
Planks – and their many variations
Ben Scarles, trainer and studio manager at F45 Soho (f45training.co.uk/soho) explains a “plank is one of the most famous and easiest exercises you can do to improve your core strength”.
If you’re bored of the regular version, he says: “Try a three-point plank [where you hold a plank, alternating between raising one leg off the ground, then the other], or a high-low plank [where you move between a plank on your hands and on your elbows, trying to keep your body steady].”
Scarles also recommends trying a side plank – certain to get your tummy trembling.
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, can burn fat and muscle – while always keeping workouts interesting.
“To get stronger, HIIT works really well,” says Scarles. Most gyms offer HIIT classes, and there are plenty that are accessible online if you want to try them at home.
It can be quite tricky to target specific areas in your body, with Scarles suggesting you cannot “control where you lose weight from” – so why not adopt the attitude of working out your whole body, and trying to feel stronger everywhere?
Hollow body hold
According to Scarles, a hollow body hold is basically a plank flipped around. Lying on your back, raise your head, shoulders, arms and legs into the air using your abs – while keeping your lower back glued to the floor.
The further you stretch those arms and legs and the longer you hold it for, the tougher the workout. Scarles also recommends adding a rock back and forth, to really hit your obliques.
Squats and deadlifts
When we think about getting slimmer, we may sometimes avoid heavy weight training for fear of getting ‘bulky’, but actually, lifting weights might make it easier to tone and reduce inches in the long run.
Scarles says squats and deadlifts are “exercises that work the whole body” – and you’ll keep coming back to them, “Because you get those little wins when you manage to lift more than you have before”.
Lifting weights requires you to engage your core, to carry the load and stop yourself from getting injured.