If you’re looking to flatten your stomach, you need to start in the kitchen. It’s far easier to cut out calories from what you eat than to burn calories during the day. It can take an hour to burn 500 calories on an exercise bike, but by taking out a few sodas from your daily diet you’ll instantly achieve the same results.
With that said, while altering your diet will help shed fat off of your body, you need to put work in at the gym. This includes lifting weights. One of the biggest misconceptions regarding upper body workouts is you will end up bulking up. That is not the case at all. Instead, upper body lifts will help you tone up without bulking up.
As you strengthen your upper body, you will burn more calories. By burning more calories you’ll ditch fat and define your muscles. It is important to understand you can’t target an area of your body to burn fat. You want a flatter stomach and to do this you need to reduce the amount of fat around your midsection. When you exercise your body draws from fat storage throughout. It metabolizes the fat it has naturally stored up and converts it to energy. This is why cranking out situps day in and day out will not lead you to a flatter stomach. In fact, situps burn very few calories. Instead, if you want to burn more calories, you will want to target larger muscle groups.
Your lower body has large muscles. These large muscle groups burn calories faster, allowing you to slim down your midsection and achieve the flat tummy look. However, you also want to focus on the upper body. Strong shoulders and back muscles will help improve the natural curve appearance of your body. It also improves your appearance when in a bathing suit or when wearing anything that exposes your shoulders. This happens with lateral raises.
Your lats are located under your shoulder. It runs from the middle of your back around your midsection and to the under area of your armpit. The muscles directly connect with your obliques. These are important muscles as it helps stabilize your core. Combined with your abdominal muscles, these two muscle groups help keep you standing straight.
A strong core is critical to having a strong midsection. These muscles, much like abdominal crunches, burn little in the way of calories. However, it will help tighten the appearance of your back up into your shoulders. Plus, by strengthening your lower back you will improve your abdominal exercise form, which makes it possible to do more crunches and to keep your back flat on the floor when performing abb exercises like leg lifts and flutter kicks. In this way, strengthening your lats will help you achieve a flat, defined tummy.
There are several exercises you can take advantage of to strengthen your lats. Some of the best are lateral raises. Here are three lateral raises you need to add into your back workout to improve the appearance of your lower back and shoulders, strengthen your core, burn calories and achieve the flat tummy you’re going after.
Lateral Raises: Exercise 1
The traditional lateral raise exercise can be accomplished using light weights. The amount of weight you use will depend on the final result you’re interested in. With the light weights, stand with your feet close together. Keep your palms facing inward the entire time. You don’t want to use any twisting movements in this exercise.
Holding the weights at your side, lift the weights up, as if you’re trying to make a “t” shape. Keep your elbows locked during this exercise. Allowing your elbows to bend will reduce the amount of strain you place on your lats, delts and shoulders, which reduces the quality of the lift. When the weights reach shoulder level hold the weights in place for a moment, then lower your arms down slowly. Do not just drop your weights back down. Lowering your arms slowly increases the strain placed on your muscles, which helps burn more calories and strengthen your target muscles.
Never use momentum for these lifts. Don’t lift the weights up and down as if you’re flapping your arms like wings. Momentum is a chat that reduces the quality of your lift. Make a conscious effort to stop at the top of the lift, hold, lower the weights down slowly, hold at the bottom, and repeat.
The amount of weight you use for this exercise will depend on what your target end result is. While you may be performing lateral raises to burn more calories and get a flat tummy, but you need to consider what kind of result you want for your lats, delts and shoulder muscles.
If, you’re interested in increasing the strength of your muscles, use a heavy enough weight to perform the lift four times per set. If you want to increase the size of the muscles shoots for between eight and 12 reps per set. If you want to burn calories and tone up your body to go along with a tight, flat tummy, shoot for more than 12 reps per set. Perform three sets for this lateral raise exercise. Use these rep and set instructions for all three of your lateral raise exercises.
Lateral Raises: Exercise 2
When you want to maximize your workout in the shortest amount of time, perform the band-resistant dumbbell lateral raises. These lateral raises require you to use not only dumbbells but elastic bands at the same time. To do this, you will probably need to reduce the amount of weight your dumbbells are. You also perform the same move as the traditional lateral raises, only this lift takes the impact on your muscles to an entirely different level.
Resistance bands and free-weights challenge your body in slightly different ways. When you lift with dumbbells, you exert the most energy at the beginning of the lift and at the end. With resistant bands you get little in the way of resistance at the beginning of the lift, but it becomes more difficult as you stretch the bands further out. When you combine the two lifts together you ensure your muscles are always under maximum resistance, no matter where in the lift you are. This prevents your body from relaxing at any point of the lift. Your body will work harder using this method, which forces it to burn more calories. Burning more calories will allow you to shred more fat and get that flat tummy you’re after.
Lateral Raises: Exercise 3
If you are interested in strengthening your shoulders even further when performing lateral raises, you will want to include the front lifting lateral raise lift into your shoulders and back lifting days. This lift works in a similar manner to the side lateral raises, only instead of lifting at the side you lift the weights directly in front of you. If you choose, you can alternate between the front lifting lateral raises and the side lifting lateral raises. Performing this kind of alternating lift keeps your body constantly guessing what you will do next, which increases the calorie burn you get.
To perform this lift, you’ll want to stand with your legs closer together. Hold the dumbbells by your side with the palm of your hands facing behind you. Now, lift your arms up directly in front of you as if you’re going to walk like a mummy. Like the other lift, stop when you reach shoulder level and hold it here for a moment. Lower the weight back down to the starting position and repeat.
This move works the front of your shoulders. It does little to the side of your shoulders, your back or your lats. So keep this in mind. You can also combine it with the resistant band if you want to maintain a consistent level of resistance on your shoulders during the lift.
As with all of these three lateral raises, the number of reps and the amount of weight you use depends on what your desired outcome is. If you want to increase strength shoot for maxing out your sets at four reps or under. If you want to increase muscle size shoot for maxing out sets at eight to 12 reps per set. If you want to burn more calories and tone up your lats, delts and shoulders without bulking up aim for over 12 reps per set.
Lateral raises are some of the best lifts you can do at the gym or at home when you want to increase the strength of your shoulders, delts and lats. While this muscle group is not large, it will burn calories with every single lift you make. When you burn more calories, your body will need to take the energy from a fat source somewhere (such as your tummy). So keep it up, eat a healthy diet and soon you’ll see the flat tummy in no time.