Ah, the spare tire. Such a cruel and unnecessary part of our anatomy. To the casual viewer (lady across the bar) it hides our athletic prowess, yet reveals our penchant for late night pizza. What a (mostly) inaccurate representation. Our bodies are built to store fat, a trait that allows us to survive. The problem is that we do not control the location of our deposits or withdrawals. There is a not an exercise one can perform to specifically remove belly fat, or any fat for that matter. We can, however, honestly evaluate what we are doing and tweak it to burn fat all over our body. We must also make sure not to put a bunch back on the weekends. Following is some straightforward science to help others see past your gut, onto to your abs, and thus into your bed.

Negative Caloric Balance

As you’ve likely heard, the only way to burn fat is create a negative calorie balance in your body, that is, you eat less than you burn. The trick is knowing approximately how many calories you should consume to achieve a negative number. Thomas Incledon, author of “Maximum Muscle Plan,” offers a formula for estimating the calories needed to maintain weight. Simply multiply your weight in lbs by 16. If you are 200 lbs, you need 3,200 (200×16) calories per day to maintain that weight. Of course, this is just an average, it will vary slightly for each person. Now, 1 lb of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories burned. So, burning 1 lb of fat per week requires a reduction in your calories of 500 per day. Incledon writes that the most effective method of reducing calories by such a number is through 50% diet and 50% exercise, or eat 250 less calories and burn 250 more. This approach avoids both extreme diets and workout plans, thus you are more likely to stick to it.

Workin’ Hard or Hardly Workin’

Let’s concentrate on the exercise component. To burn those extra calories, focus on a mixture of resistance (lifting) and aerobic exercises. You do not need to spend hours in the gym, either. If your goal is to lose the fat and retain some muscle, too much cardio can be bad. Picture a marathon runner, not very bulky, right? 30 minutes of aerobic exercise with your heart rate at around 70 to 80% of its maximum, several times a week will do the trick. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that working out in that range, 70-80%, not only maximally burns fat, but also effectively improves aerobic fitness.

Resistance training is also important to ridding that fat. Obviously, while you are lifting, you are burning calories. Working at a pace that keeps your heart rate elevated increases calories used during the session. Building muscle, however, is extremely beneficial in gut reduction outside of the gym as well. The key is the effect it has on your metabolism. The National Strength and Conditioning Association explains, your resting metabolic rate (RMR), makes up about 65% of your daily energy expenditure. Basically, this is how many calories you would burn if you laid in bed all day, simply powering your heart, lungs, etc. This rate, however, can be increased by adding lean muscle to our bodies. The more muscle you are carrying, the more calories you burn while playing fantasy football.

So, where to add this muscle? Consider areas of your body that you may have neglected in the past. Make sure you are working your chest, back, arms, shoulders, core and legs. Review your current workout plan, and add exercises as necessary and update old ones you’ve been doing for awhile. If you need to save time, focus on larger muscle groups, like your legs, back and chest. Squats work a lot of muscles simultaneously, as do deadlifts. The goal is muscle all over your frame and neglected areas will build quicker.

It is annoying to be so close, to work hard and still have this gut mocking you. A balanced, smart approach, of diet, cardio and lifting, however, will rid you of this unnecessary weight. If you hit the gym regularly and watch what you eat, but still need a tire change, take note, revealing your six-pack takes an extra focus and a calculated plan. Going through the motions won’t get you ahead at the office, and the gym is no different. Do some math, make a plan, and attack your guy the right way. Doing so will make your aerobic exercise that much more effective, and boost your metabolism that much higher. This added efficiency will get you over the hump, or gut as it may be. Remember, it’s almost hot tub season.