Sit ups, crunches, and planks, oh my! These tummy-toning exercises are typically the first choice for those looking to lose weight and work towards a more toned midline – but are they really the best movements when you’re trying to get rid of that stubborn belly fat? Not quite!
Before we dive into the 10 best exercises to help you lose belly fat, let’s break down why this area of the body can be so difficult and stubborn to lose weight from in the first place.
What is belly fat?
When looking at this area of the body specifically, “belly fat” can categorize any fat that is stored around the midsection. Body fat can be broken down into two different categories. First, there is subcutaneous fat or body fat that is stored directly under the skin. This is typically the fat that is visible and that can be easily measured through many body composition tests.
The second category of body fat is visceral fat. Visceral fat is the fat stored deeper in the body which is typically stored around the internal organs. Given its location around these organs, higher levels of visceral fat have been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. Although it can’t be seen or measured as easily, visceral fat should still be considered when you are working to lose belly fat.
How to lose belly fat
As you probably already know, the #NoomNerds keep it real when it comes to science and how the body works! In staying true to that, we feel it’s important to highlight a common misconception when looking at losing belly fat.
The idea of “spot toning” or “targeted weight loss”, which is focusing on decreasing body fat on a specific area of the body is a myth. Given the way the body works, no specific exercise or food will allow you to target your weight loss efforts to a specific area of the body. In reality, your body will pull from all fat stores evenly, holding genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors equal, based on body composition, height, weight, and metabolic health. Although this may sound frustrating or disheartening, don’t give up hope!
If you are wanting to reduce belly fat, there are many things that can help you work towards this. First, food choices should keep overall calorie balance in mind. The body will use fat as fuel if overall calories do not exceed calories burned for the day. Second, staying hydrated and getting plenty of sleep can play a huge role in allowing your body to remain in a place where it is able to efficiently use body fat for fuel. Lastly, incorporating a balance of strength training and cardio can allow for the perfect mix of muscle building and calorie burning that can lead to efficient burning of body fat
There are many exercises you can use to help with weight loss and reducing overall body fat levels, which will lead to an eventual reduction in belly fat. Let’s dive in and take a look at 10 exercises that can help you lose belly fat!
Exercises to lose belly fat
- Mountain Climbers
- Leg raise
Walking: You may be surprised to see walking at the top of the list, but it can pay off big time! Burning calories is key to decreasing overall body fat percentage, which eventually leads to reducing belly fat. Walking can burn around 100 calories per mile and is a great place to start if you are new to exercise and wanting to lose belly fat.
Running: Running takes the calorie-burning benefits of walking and ups the ante! Although more intense, running is another great way to burn calories that doesn’t require access to any gym or equipment. Expect to burn between 100-200 calories per mile.
Rowing: A lower-impact alternative to running, rowing is an easy-on-the-joints exercise that allows for calorie-burning work. Whether on a rowing machine or on the water, 30 minutes of rowing can lead to anywhere from 200-400 calories burned, a great step to towards burning overall body fat!
HIIT: HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is a great way to quickly and efficiently burn calories which can aid in helping you lose belly fat. A popular example of HIIT training is tabata which is 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. The higher intensity of this training allows for a higher heart rate and a quick rest in-between to keep overall intensity and subsequent calorie burning ramped up.
Burpees: Although it has a funny name, there is truly nothing funny about a burpee. A full body exercise, burpees are tough movement but great for burning calories. To perform a burpee, simply start standing, drop down into a plank position, complete a push up, and jump back up to your feet, ending with a jump and clap.
Planks: Planks are a fairly stationary movement and may not be the most efficient calorie burner, but they are a great exercise to specifically strengthen abdominal muscles. Although planks will not spot tone or burn fat directly from the stomach, strengthening and building these muscles can lead to burning more calories and subsequent fat in general.
Mountain Climbers: Mountain climbers take the core strengthening aspects of the plank and ramp it up with higher intensity calorie burning. To perform a mountain climber simply start in a plank position and bring the knees to chest, almost like you are running in place, while holding a plank.
Squats: Squats of any kind are a great full-body movement. They may focus predominantly on the muscles of the lower body (glutes and quads), but when performed correctly, squats can be a great way to burn calories and strengthen the muscles around the stomach. To ensure the core is being worked, think about bracing the muscles around your stomach as you descend into your squat. Not only will you get stronger and burn more calories, but you will also protect your back and complete the movement safely. Squats can be performed with weight or simply body weight for a great belly fat burning workout.
Deadlifts: Similar to the squat, the deadlift is a great exercise that has tertiary side effects of strengthening the muscles of the abdomen and core. Focused on the hamstrings and back, the deadlift can be performed unweighted or with a variety of different weights. Thinking of “bracing” the core muscles and keeping a neutral spine throughout the movement can ensure the correct muscles are being targeted throughout.
Leg Raise: A movement done lying on the ground, a leg raise includes bracing the core and lifting straight legs up into the air. The bracing of this movement works the abs, hip flexors, and obliques, which can all play a part in developing a strong and belly fat burning core.
Easy exercises to lose belly fat
It may surprise you to see that crunches, sit ups, and other common “six pack” exercises did not make our list of exercises to help you lose belly fat. In reality, the belly fat burning benefits of these exercises are far outweighed by a risk of injury. Doing thousands of sit ups may strengthen those abdominal muscles in the long term but they will not spot burn belly fat and if not done properly can pose a risk to the back.
It’s important to remember that when you are wanting to burn belly fat, the main focus should be burning calories and strengthening the muscles around the core! By focusing on these simple, full-body movements, your body will burn fat and allow you to work towards the goal of burning fat from that midsection.
Interested in learning how to successfully incorporate these exercises into your routine? Let your Noom coach give you tips and tricks to find the exercises that are best for you and help you continue reaching your goals. Give Noom a try today!