It seems no matter how hard some people work out, or how much muscle mass they put on, one area of the body seems too stubborn to tone up—the belly. It can be really disheartening to spend hours toning up your abs, only for them to remain hidden by a little flabby layer of fat that doesn’t seem to want to shift, no matter what you try.

This is a common problem, especially for older bodybuilders, but it’s not an unsolvable problem, it just takes the right approach and combination of diet and subtle changes to your exercise regimen.

Ditch the Situps and Crunches

The most obvious methods people try to remove belly fat are crunches and sit-ups. The thinking goes that exercise burns calories, so to remove fat in a particular area of the body you exercise that area. However, this is not how it works.

By doing an excessive amount of crunches and sit-ups, you may reduce your belly fat, but by no greater amount than the fat in other areas of the body. And while you will have rock hard abs thanks to all those crunches, you still won’t get the definition you want thanks to the belly fat covering them.

To understand why this is, and to find a solution for removing belly fat, you have to realise why we have abdominal fat in the first place. The body stores fat as a reserve, but there are limits to where it can be kept.

The stomach provides one of the most available spaces, along with the backside and thighs. However, how your body distributes around these areas is reliant on several factors, including your genes, hormones, and diet.

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Increase Your Hormones

There is very little you can do about your genes, but you can do something about your hormones and diet. When it comes to hormones, the most important one for all bodybuilders is obviously testosterone, which not only makes the body more capable to build muscle mass but it also lowers body fat.

In addition, the more muscle and testosterone in the body, the lower the amount of estrogen, and as this also contributes to the distribution of fat around the belly, the lower the level the better.

Before you go and grab some testosterone supplements or worse, put something into your body you are not meant to, it is worth noting that increasing testosterone naturally is by far the best solution.

Not only are the effects of growth hormone quite nasty when taken unnaturally, including hair loss, gynaecomastia or even more serious conditions, but also, as testosterone is produced naturally in the body all it takes is the right exercise to boost its levels, which is not only easy to do, but won’t lead to nasty side effects.

In fact, all it takes is a few changes to your exercise regimen. Perhaps the easiest method to boost your levels is to do low repetitions of squats and powerlifts once or twice a week. This type of strenuous weight training is great at making your body produce more hormones, though you need to ensure you also get plenty of rest.

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Fix Your Diet

Of course, reducing belly fat also requires the right diet. Make sure you are getting plenty of protein, as this ensures you can produce enough testosterone and muscle.

For most male bodybuilders, this should be about 180 to 200 grams each day, or a little more depending on your workout regimen. Protein shakes are a good idea as you can boost your intake without increasing calories, because these need to be reduced in order that your body will burn off the fat around your midriff.

The easiest way to do this is to write down everything you eat in a typical week, and then calculate your average daily calorie intake. From this average, subtract 300 calories, which will make sure you are getting less, not more, than is needed. In addition to this, introduce a little extra cardio into your workout to ensure you are burning plenty of calories each week.

By maximising the amount of testosterone you are producing, ensuring you are getting enough protein combined with reducing calories, you should start seeing a reduction in belly fat after just a few weeks.

Once you have the definition you want, you can start to increase calories again maintain this weight, but be careful, as it is all too easy to put the fat back on again, so ensure you keep monitoring your weight and calories, and make adjustments when necessary.