Even if you exercise fairly regularly and keep half an eye on what you eat, chances are you can still pinch a decent amount of belly fat between your thumb and forefinger that never seems to shift.
And, sod's law being what it is, it's these last 7-10 pounds separating you from your 'ideal weight' that are often the hardest to shift. The final frontier to being lean. Or front tyre to be more accurate.
The reason for this state of affairs is partly genetic. It's around the abdomen where men – android body types – tend to store their last vestiges of fat, whereas for women it's more likely to be around the hips and bum.
There are other reasons too. Your metabolism may have slowed up after coasting at a certain weight and settling on a familiar but unchallenging exercise regime – the dreaded 'plateau'. Or maybe you're just not doing enough to make these final gains.
Your choice then is to accept your level as it is and carry on regardless, or decide to work a little smarter – and certainly harder – to get the extra results.
1 Hit The Weights
If you still think endless cardio is going to get you lean, it's time you finally headed over to the weights area of the gym.
One of the keys to burning off those last pounds of fat is having a more efficient metabolism and the best way to do this is to increase your muscle mass as your body burns more calories at rest just to fuel those bigger muscles.
Research has also shown that lifting weights is proven to be a far more effective way to get rid of belly fat than steadily spending hours on the bike or running machine. A 12 year Harvard study found that men who lifted weights for at least 20 minutes every day accumulated half as much abdominal fat than those who just did cardio. The study also discovered that even 48 hours later you still burn more calories than those who didn't lift any weights.
Instead of just throwing in a few bicep curls, you're going to need to take a scientific approach. Focus on the big muscle groups, record the weight you are using and gradually increase your loads so you are constantly challenging your body.
2 Up The Intensity
You might feel worthy after that slow Sunday steady-state plod around the park but truth is this isn't going to do the job on its own.
When it comes to losing fat, high-intensity interval training is now proven to offer several benefits over steady-state when your goal is to lose the last few pounds of fat.
Whether it's conventional circuit training or sprint intervals round the park, the list of reasons to give it a go are long: it burns fat faster than steady state and keeps burning for longer after your workout; it boost your endurance and V02 max; it prepares you better for team sports like football and rugby; it improves functional strength; the only equipment you need is your own body; and when done properly you can fit in a proper session in less than 30 mins. Now you're interested.
3 Mix Up Your Routine
We're creatures of habit and that gym routine that served you so well when you started may have started to get a little cosy as your body gets used to how and even when you train.
Introducing new sports and classes will make your body work harder, burns more calories and uses new muscles.
The old calories in/calories out principle still applies to losing these last few pounds so look at ways to introduce more general activity into your routine, whether it's running to work once a week or just walking more on your commute.
The good news is that this approach won't just challenge your body but will almost certainly make training more interesting too – adding a crucial dose of extra motivation to finish this job.
4 Look For The Calorie Damagers
Getting it right in the gym is one thing, but it's in the kitchen where you're going to need to pay special attention. Just as you can audit your routine to squeeze more activity in, you could also take an honest look at what you're putting in the tank to check for any red flags that are holding you back. Do you always hit the bread basket when you're eating out without even realising? How many 'odd' glasses of wine are you having during the week? Take a step back and you might be surprised to find some easy ways to drastically cut your weekly intake.
5 Snack Wisely
You can still snack, in fact it's important that you do to regulate hunger and keep blood sugar levels stable, just make sure you have the right options at your fingertips – at home, at work and when you know you're going to be on the go. Fill your work drawers with almonds and walnuts, keep a stock of oat cakes in your bag in case you get caught short, you get the picture.
Doesn't sound like much fun? Ultimately, it all depends on deciding on the weight you're happy with and is realistic for you and your lifestyle. If you can find and maintain that, your work here is done.
This 10 week plan has been developed and designed by Pete Fraser Fitness. Contact 020 7734 0080 for a personal consultation or email firstname.lastname@example.org