After all that delicious winter comfort food, an unwanted muffin top may have made itself at home in between your cute spring tops and skinny jeans! Fitness expert Christian Mason shows us how to get rid of a muffin top – fast!
What is the best way to get rid of the dreaded muffin top?
This is always a classic dilemma. Unfortunately there is no quick antidote for that one. It’s a combination of addressing your dietary habits but also looking at endurance and exercise.
Unfortunately you can’t spot reduce in terms of attacking a certain area, but what you can do is do exercises that will help to tone the area. So in essence you would look to do a number of core exercises and particularly around the hips and leg region. While that won’t burn the fat from where the muffin top fat lies, it will help to tone those muscles and hold it in better – almost like a corset.
That, coupled with the dietary changes is how you will start to remove the fat over time. Things that would work well for this at Virgin Active are; power plate, hula hoop classes and functional training designed by the trainer who is going to attack those areas from a condition and toning perspective.
What are your top tips for getting motivated, especially to someone that hasn’t exercised in a while?
First and foremost you need to set a plan, make sure that plan’s realistic.
It’s great to include a lot of things you like doing in that plan and that the things you do are aligned to where you are looking to head – set yourself some goals. Importantly, you need to have a process of feedback. Feedback is really important in the initial stages to maintain the motivation. You need to see that you are gaining improvement and that’s what will spur you on to stay with it until eventually you get to a place where you are enjoying exercise for the sake of exercising. The benefits are a simple, excellent by-product as a result.
What are your favourite exercises for women?
Anything involving the hips and lunge region really, because I know that’s a target area for women – their glutes and their quads. It’s great to get the body moving. The real benefit there is they’re your biggest muscle groups, so you will be burning more calories as you are generating more energy through using those muscles. Similarly , the backs of the arms – toning exercises in relation to your upper body are great but you should always address that through a whole body workout – get the full body moving and working to get the full benefit.
Some people love pilates and yoga, others swear by cardio – is there an ideal balance or should you just stick to what you love doing?
The easy answer to that one is stick with what you love doing as long as you don’t get bored. But variety is the spice of life and that’s what’s going to maintain motivation. It’s also fundamental for seeing improvement in the human body. The body will adapt to whatever you are doing, you have to keep giving it new challenges and new direction. So having a combination of doing Pilates and Yoga coupled with cardio is the ideal mix. Obviously they each provide differing benefits. Pilates and Yoga are both awesome for strength and conditioning and also brings that mind body connection. While cardio is also really important for heart health and also for stress release.
At Virgin Active, we’re also introducing Hot Yoga – which provides more choice for members. Going to a hot yoga versus a normal yoga class it’s not necessarily going to be a different set of sequences or salutations. It’s simply the environment. What will happen is in a warmer environment your muscles will warm quicker and they’ll loosen faster and you’ll find you’ll gain more flexibility benefits. That coupled with the fact that because it’s warmer you’ll sweat more so you’ll detoxify more as a result of increased perspiration.
What’s the best thing to eat and drink before and after exercising?
Firstly and most importantly….DRINK WATER! You’ve got to be drinking water whilst you’re exercising. Hydration is critical for your overall stamina and performance. It’s quite scary how if you don’t drink how much of an impact it can have upon your performance. As for what drinks you should have there’s obviously a plethora of opportunity out there. It’s really about making sure it’s hydration so you have electrolytes if you are doing long endurance exercise. You have to be carefulof a lot of the different flavoured drinks out there as they are quite high in sugar. So if your goal is weight loss and you are thinking you need to have a Powerade and so forth, you are contradicting what you are doing by taking in all that sugar because you are bringing in excess energy which you are trying to expend in the first place. Really the whole nutrient point in terms of what you drink before and after exercise is really most important for long distance endurance exercise.
The average burner who is going to be working out for 45 minutes to an hour just needs to feel energised before the workout. So don’t train on an empty stomach or you’ll get faint. And that’s a classic thing that happens to people who train in the mornings – they skip breakfast. So a banana before a workout or a small piece of fruit – is the ideal amount – not too much that’s going to sit in your stomach and feel uncomfortable but enough to give you the energy that’s going to get you through the workout.Then most importantly post-exercise is to get some protein in for recovery and it’s not a problem in the morning to have a few carbs.
What are your top tips for losing the muffin top?