There is only one quick fix for a muffin top and that’s to wear looser clothing. If you’re looking for a better solution than that, you’ll need to work at it, getting both your diet and fitness routine on point.
To help on that front, we’ve enlisted Alastair Crew, master trainer at David Lloyd Clubs, who has provided his top five tips for getting rid of a muffin top, plus a simple HIIT workout that will set you on your way.
Tips For Getting Rid Of A Muffin Top
1. “Record your diet,” says Crew. “A food journal will help you become more aware of what your daily and weekly routine is, providing you with a reality check.”
2. “Water is involved in almost every chemical reaction in the body. Being hydrated allows the body to function optimally, making it much easier to mobilise and utilise fat. Aim to drink approximately 0.03 litres of water per kilogram of bodyweight per day. So a 70kg individual would be aiming for 2.1 litres or 7-9 glasses of water a day.”
3. “Don’t overcomplicate your nutrition strategy. If it is too complicated, you’ll be less likely to stick to it. Wherever you are now, implement a couple of things that you genuinely believe you can change that will also move you towards your goal. Be consistent with this new behaviour and this will form new habits. It’s these new habits that will give you the results you want.”
4. “Don’t make the mistake of always performing low-intensity steady state (LISS) cardio exercise. Interval training can provide faster results with fat loss. Research also suggests that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can provide greater loss of subcutaneous fat – the stuff we can see in the mirror – than moderate-intensity exercise.”
5. “Resistance training is a crucial element that leads to better body composition – ie the amount of lean mass you have in relation to fat mass. If you want to target the fat around your middle you can’t just focus on crunching your way to success. A good place to start would be a total-body HIIT workout that includes a healthy dose of resistance exercise too.”
How To Do This HIIT Workout
This bodyweight workout uses the Tabata protocol for the work and rest intervals, so you do four-minute rounds of 20 seconds on, ten seconds off. Do this for eight rounds in total, moving through the four exercises listed below, focusing on one for each four-minute round. Take one minute of rest between each round.
"Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart,” says Crew. “Initiate the squat by tilting your torso forwards and driving your hamstrings back. Distribute your weight in the centre of your feet and keep the entirety of both feet in contact with the ground. As your hip crease drops below your knees, continue to move your knees out laterally to ensure they do not cave inwards. Reach out in front with your arms as you sit, and then take them back to your sides as you return to standing.”
Lunge with overhead reach
From standing, take a big step forwards with your right foot and lower down until both knees are bent at a 90° angle. As you lunge, raise both arms straight above your head. Push back to the starting position, then repeat on your left side. Alternate sides.
Take a big step to your right and lower until your leading leg is bent at a 90° angle, keeping your trailing leg straight. Push back up to the starting position, then lunge to the left side. Alternate sides.
Press-up with rotation
From a top press-up position lower your chest to the ground then push back up, raise your right hand, twist your torso clockwise and reach towards the ceiling. Return to start and perform another press-up before reaching up with your left hand. Alternate sides.
Crawl forwards on your hands and feet, moving both limbs on the same side of your body at the same time. Keep your back straight and core engaged as you move.
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet planted. Put your palms on the ground behind you and raise your hips. Move around, keeping your body raised.
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The workout consists of eight rounds split between four exercises. Do each move for an entire round, then move on to the next one. Repeat the order in rounds five to eight. In each round be strict with the Tabata timings, going all-out for 20 seconds, then resting for ten seconds.
“Maintain a high chest position and keep your shoulder blades back and down – don’t shrug your shoulders,” says Crew. “This will help shift stress away from the shoulders and place it on the chest and triceps. Aim to travel to a depth where your elbows are bent at 90°.
“You can rest your knees on the floor to make it easy, and to make it harder take your chest all the way to the floor. Just make sure you don’t sacrifice your form and allow your lower back to sag.”
"Keep your core braced and fire up your glutes as soon as you start pushing the floor away from your feet,” says Crew.
Bear crawl/crab walk
“These are two functional movements that improve core strength, coordination and mobility,” says Crew. “The bear crawl focuses more on the front of the body while the crab focuses on the back of the body. Alternate between them with each 20-second effort.”
“The single-leg burpee is a tough variation of an already tough move!” says Crew. “By focusing on a single leg we create more strength, power and endurance in each leg as well as providing a tougher challenge for our core. If you need to, keep both feet on the ground and perform the regular burpee.”
Stand on one leg – you’ll be keeping the other one off the ground through the entire move. Reach down and put your hands on the ground before hopping your leg back so you’re in an elevated one-leg plank position. Then hop the leg forwards again, stand up and leap off the ground, raising your hands above your head. Swap legs every 20 seconds.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.