Do you need a gut check? It’s common to be captivated by the physical perks of losing weight, but the size of your stomach can disclose a lot about your well-being. A big belly has more concerning health consequences than not fitting into your favorite pair of jeans.

When visceral fat forms around vital organs located in the abdomen, the risk of developing such deadly conditions as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer increases. That’s why it’s vital to reduce your body fat through such methods as exercise, eating well, and drinking less alcohol.

The first step to minimizing your midsection is to measure it. Here’s how:

Place a measuring tape around your bare belly. The tape should rest halfway between your hip bone and ribs. Make sure the tape is level. Take a breath, and on the exhale, measure your circumference. While it may be tempting, resist sucking in.

For men, 40 inches or more is considered at greater risk for obesity-associated diseases. For women, 35 inches or more is considered at risk.

Once you have assessed your abdomen, you’ll need the right toning tools to help chisel away that extra adipose tissue. It’s important to note that you cannot spot train your stomach. That means no amount of sit-ups will slenderize your waistline. Instead, focus on a well-rounded fitness routine, such as high-intensity interval training, that will boost your metabolism, burn major calories, and convert fat into lean muscle. This, in addition to healthier food choices and limiting alcohol consumption, is the winning formula to frying fat and improving your overall health.

Transform your tummy and shed unwanted weight with this HIIT workout:

You will need a set of free weights for this routine. For best results, repeat the circuit three times.

Push-ups

  • Start in a high plank position, aligning your shoulders directly above your wrists, keeping your spine straight and neck neutral. You can modify this exercises by dropping to your knees.
  • Lower your body until it is hovering several inches off the floor, then push through your palms to return to the starting stance. Keep your elbows close to your ribs and avoid drooping or hiking your hips. Repeat 10 times.
Push-up
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Push-up

Rest for 30 seconds

Side plank toe taps

  • Begin on your side with your body weight propped up on your forearm and legs stacked.
  • Use your core to lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line.
  • When you feel balanced, move your top arm and leg toward each other as you squeeze your core. Release your arm and leg to return to the starting stance. Continue for eight reps, then repeat on the opposite side.
Side plank crunch
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Side plank crunch

Rest for 30 seconds

Stationary lunge press

  • Hold your free weights at shoulder height. Take a step back with your right leg and lower your body into a lunge. Keep your shoulders above your hips and knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Step through your left heel to lift your body and bring your feet together while simultaneously extending your arms overhead. Hold for one count then step back once more lowering the weights to your shoulders. Repeat 10 times then switch sides.
Lunge overhead press
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Lunge overhead press

Rest for 30 seconds

Air squats

  • Start by standing with your shoulders back, core engaged, and feet hip-width apart.
  • With your body weight in your heels, hinge back at your hips and lower your body until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
  • Hold for two counts, then drive through your heels to return to the starting stance. Squeeze your glutes at the top and repeat 10 times.
Body weight squat
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Body weight squat

Rest for 30 seconds

Jumping jacks, 30 reps

Ashley Blake Greenblatt, ACE-CPT, is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.