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Potbelly? Shrink it!


Many men, as they age, develop a potbelly. People who are active and otherwise not over weight find themselves looking down one day to see fat accumulating on their stomachs.


There are ways to rid your self of a potbelly. You cannot diet off a potbelly, but it is sensible, for many health reasons, to cut down on your dietary fat intake. There are causes for this unfortunate development! This article will show you seven ways you can shrink a potbelly and will also explain two ways that won't do you any good.

One of the two misconceptions is the dieting issue. If you are over weight you will certainly make a potbelly worse, but dieting is no potbelly panacea. Look around you and you'll see many otherwise thin people with big bellies.

The other misconception believed by many is that you can sweat off a potbelly. Running, swimming, bicycling and other aerobic exercises are excellent for your heart but unfortunately they do not guarantee a flat stomach. One surprising fact is that jogging can actually exacerbate a potbelly. This is a result of the difficulty in holding your stomach in as you run. This actually serves to weaken the stomach muscles which, in turn, causes the stomach to distend.

Let's get to the crux of this matter now and address the seven things you can do to shrink that potbelly.

1. Drink Less Beer

Bottle of Beer We've all heard the term "beer belly" and there is always a reason for these terms. The reason in this case is a very valid one. A beer belly is no joke; it's a fact. When you consume large quantities of beer you tend to have more visceral fat. Visceral fat is the kind of fat that collects in and around the liver and other internal organs. If you are a beer drinker, there are ways to determine if this is what is causing your excess belly fat. A potbelly that develops from drinking too much beer will be a "hard" potbelly. Some like to say it feels like all muscle when in fact, it is all fat and it's the bad fat that raises your risk of heart disease and intestinal problems. The best advice, and in truth the only way to avoid a beer belly, is to avoid the beer. If you are thinking you can then turn to hard alcohol, please don't. Hard alcohol can have this effect, also, although perhaps not as severely.

2. Avoid Late Night Meals

First, a comforting note; this isn't about having a snack. It is about eating a large meal where you've literally stuffed yourself shortly before bedtime. When you go to bed with a full stomach this keeps your stomach muscles relaxed and stretched all night as you sleep. Over a period of years, this will lead to a potbelly. Rather than eating your final, big meal of the day late at night, learn to eat as early in the evening as you can. Keep the meals small and switch to breakfast as your biggest meal of the day. It may take some time to adjust to this, but once you do, you will most likely find you will feel better through out the day, as well as helping yourself get rid of that potbelly.

3. Improve Your Posture

This may sound odd, but it's so true! When you slouch, you make a potbelly worse. You need to learn and practice walking tall, standing tall, and sitting up straight. Much better for your back, too! A double benefit.

4. Posture Test:

Stand with your back and shoulders against a wall. Pull everything up - buttocks, shoulders and stomach. Stand as erect as possible. If you cannot straighten up, you may have *lordosis, an inward bending of the lower spine. Check with your doctor. If he/she confirms this diagnosis, see an orthopedist who can fit you with a posture improving elastic back brace worn under your clothes.

5. Exercise Your Stomach Muscles

Do your best to make a concentrated effort to hold in your stomach as you walk around or do household chores -- anytime you're in an upright position. This will prevent the stomach muscles from sagging. Many body builders practice this while working all their muscle groups and it helps protect the back as well as toning the stomach muscles up and keeping them strong. The key muscles involved in this practice are called the oblique and rectus abdominis. The obliques are the walls of the abdominal muscles and the rectus abdominis are the "straight" muscle of the stomach.

6. Helpful Exercises:

The abdominal crunch. Yes, the basic, all around good-for-the-tummy crunch. The crunch is very similar to the bent-knee sit-up.

Lie on your back with your knee's bent and your feet flat on the floor. Do not sit up far enough to reach your toes. That can cause lower back pain. Instead, raise your head and shoulders only a few inches. Make sure you are using your stomach muscles to raise your head and shoulders, not that you're pulling on your head and neck with your arms.

Ab Crunch

You should feel a slight burning sensation in the muscles of the stomach if you are doing this correctly. Don't let this alarm you - this is what you are supposed to feel. Excess pain is cause for alarm, however. If you feel an abnormal pain or discomfort, do not do this, although you really shouldn't. This is a harmless exercise just about anyone can do and benefit from. Okay, you feel those muscles working as you are raising your head and shoulders; now, try to hold that position for about ten seconds, then ease back down gently and slowly. Repeat as many times as you can, adding repetitions, as you feel able to. You're stomach muscles will let you know when they've had enough.

If this is something you've never done before, do not be alarmed or scared off it you can't do too many at first. Just do what you can and keep at it every day. Before you know it you'll be doing fifty or more! Try to get this exercise in every day. The abdominal muscles are one of the muscle groups that can be worked every day.

Exercise Your Lower Back
Weak back muscles can leave you prone to *lordosis, the above-mentioned ailment. The result of this ailment is a protruding stomach.

Strength boosting exercise:
Lie face down on a strong table with your legs dangling down. Grip the table and raise your legs up horizontally behind you. You'll feel it right in the small of your back if you are doing it properly. Bring your legs back down slowly and gently. Do three sets of ten repetitions, three times a week. When you get stronger and better at this, add the arms.

Lying on back leg raise

Stretch Your Hamstrings
If you are one who sits at a desk all day without stretching your muscles, your hamstrings, which are the back of the thigh muscles, are probably very tight. When the hamstring muscles are tight like this, they make it harder for you to stand up straight. The best way to loosen your hamstrings is with regular toe-touching exercises.

Standard Toe Touch Exercise to Stretch Hamstrings:
Place your hands on the middle of your thighs, bend slightly, put one foot out a comfortable ways from your body, lift your toes so your heel is all that is touching the floor and bend slowly as you feel the muscle stretch. If you push your buttocks out, you'll deepen the stretch. Only stretch to the point of comfort, never to the point of pain.

Or, gently, without bouncing, keep your knees slightly bent as you reach as far down with your arms as you can. Hold for ten seconds, straighten up slowly, take a deep breath and repeat twice. Another way of doing this is on the floor (see "alternate" link right above). Sit with your feet in front of you and lean over as far as you can as if you're reaching to touch your toes. Go as far as you comfortably can. If you do this a couple times every day, you should notice the ability to go a little further with each passing day.

Stretching your hip flexors. Do this by performing what is known as the hurdler stretch. Sit on the floor with one leg in front of you and the other bent back beside you. Reach forward toward your outstretched foot. Hold this position for ten seconds. Repeat twice, then switch legs.

Hurdler Stretch Exercise

7. Perform Strength Training Exercises

By the age of 65, the average person's muscle strength drops 20 percent. Strength training can forestall this loss and prevent the gradual weakening that leads to a potbelly.

Target all the major muscles in your legs, stomach, back, arms, chest and shoulders. Overall body strength contributes to better posture and muscle balance, which in turn, helps prevent or shrink a potbelly.

Use a weight that allows you to complete ten repetitions, so that the last rep is relatively hard but you maintain good form. If you begin to lose your form, stop. You are then straining the muscle. That can be harmful. Try to life weights three times a week for about 30 minutes. Vary the exercises each work out to avoid boredom. Be sure to rest your muscles for 48 hours between work outs. This is when they repair, grow and strengthen.


An abnormal forward curvature of the spine in the lumbar region, resulting in a swaybacked posture.

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