Losing fat around the waist is a common goal for many people looking to get in better shape. This is because excess fat around the midsection has been associated with several health risks like heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Fortunately, there are specific exercises that can help burn that stubborn belly fat. The key is choosing exercises that target the abdominal muscles under the fat as well as exercises that burn calories and boost your metabolism.
Why Burning Belly Fat is Important
Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is the fat that surrounds the organs in your abdominal cavity. Carrying excess visceral fat is linked to a higher risk of:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol
- Colorectal cancer
Visceral fat is metabolically active and produces hormones and other substances that can negatively impact your health. Trimming down your waist size can help reduce these health risks.
Some contributing factors to excess belly fat include a sedentary lifestyle, processed foods high in sugar and refined carbs, stress, and lack of sleep. Making dietary changes like eating more protein and fiber while reducing your intake of sugary foods and alcohol can help. But adding in regular exercise is key for burning that abdominal fat.
Best Exercises to Burn Belly Fat
Here are some of the most effective exercises for getting rid of fat around the waist:
Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise is any activity that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe harder. Adding high-intensity cardio intervals helps rev up fat burning. Examples of great cardio workouts for belly fat include:
- Jumping rope
- High intensity interval training (HIIT)
Aim for 30-60 minutes of cardio at least 3-5 days per week. Really push yourself by including short bursts of high intensity movement.
2. Strength Training
Strength training not only tones and defines muscle, but also boosts your metabolism. Lifting weights a few times a week is ideal for burning visceral fat. Try to target all the major muscle groups:
- Legs – squats, lunges
- Chest – bench press, push ups
- Back – rows, lat pulldowns
- Shoulders – overhead press, lateral raises
- Arms – bicep curls, tricep extensions
- Core – planks, sit ups
Aim to lift weights 3 days per week, allowing a day of rest in between sessions.
3. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT combines short, intense intervals of exercise with periods of rest. These burst workouts rev up your metabolism and burn more fat. Examples of great HIIT workouts include:
- Sprint intervals
- Cycling intervals
- Jumping jacks, burpees, jump rope
- Kettlebell or battle rope circuits
Aim for 20-30 minute HIIT sessions 2-3 times per week. Go all out during the intense intervals and recover during the rest periods.
4. Core Exercises
Strengthening your core and abdominal muscles can help pull in your waistline. Try these effective core moves:
- Side plank
- Sit ups
- Leg raises
- Russian twists
Aim for 10-15 core exercises targeting the abs, obliques, lower back, and pelvic muscles 2-3 times per week.
5. Compound Movements
Compound or multi-joint exercises work multiple muscle groups at once for total body toning. Some great compound moves include:
- Push ups
- Pull ups
Aim to include 4-5 compound movements in each strength workout. Go for higher weight and lower reps to maximize fat burning.
Exercise alone often isn’t enough when trying to lose stubborn belly fat. Your diet plays a huge role too. Here are some dietary strategies to support your workout efforts:
- Reduce intake of refined carbs and added sugars – These spike blood sugar and can increase tummy fat.
- Eat more lean protein – Protein increases satiety, boosts metabolism, and helps retain muscle during fat loss.
- Increase fiber intake – Eating more fiber supports fat loss and improves digestive health.
- Stay hydrated – Drinking water supports metabolism and reduces water retention.
- Manage stress – High cortisol from stress can increase belly fat.
- Get enough sleep – Lack of sleep is linked to weight gain.
Making better food choices combined with effective exercise is the best approach for losing that stubborn belly fat for good.
How Long Does it Take to See Results?
How quickly you’ll start noticing changes around your waist will depend on several factors:
- Your starting weight and body composition
- The intensity and frequency of your workouts
- Your nutrition and calorie intake
- Genetics and metabolism
- Hormones and health conditions
- Sleep and stress levels
While you may start to feel leaner and tighter after just a few weeks, for most people it takes about 3-4 months of consistent exercise and healthy eating to notice substantial changes in belly fat. Taking monthly progress pictures and measurements can help you track small changes over time.
Just keep in mind that spot reduction is a myth – you can’t pick and choose where to lose fat. But with full body workouts and dietary changes, you will start to lean out all over including your midsection.
Best Exercises for Belly Fat by Body Type
Certain body types tend to store more fat in the abdominal area. You may need to tailor your workout slightly depending on your body shape:
Apple Body Type
People with an apple body shape tend to carry excess weight and fat around their middle. The best exercises to burn belly fat for this body type include:
- Planks – Strengthen transverse abdominals
- Bicycle crunches – Target obliques
- Burpees – Full body cardio burner
- Rowing – Works core and back muscles
Focus on high rep core moves along with fat burning HIIT cardio.
Pear Body Type
With a pear shape, excess fat often collects around the hips, butt, and thighs. The best belly fat burning workouts for this body type are:
- Mountain climbers – Tones abs
- Squats – Strengthens and lifts glutes
- Jump rope – High intensity cardio
- Plank row combo – Works core and back
Aim for compound moves that also target lower body muscles. Add in sprints or stair climbing for cardio.
Hourglass Body Type
For an hourglass shape with more fat distributed around the waist, the best fat burning exercises include:
- Russian twists – Hits obliques
- Hip raises – Strengthens lower abs
- Swimming – Full body cardio
- Dumbbell side bends – Works obliques
Focus on toning your core through exercises that target the obliques as well as upper and lower abs.
Best Workouts for Belly Fat Based on Fitness Level
Your current fitness level is another factor to consider when choosing belly fat burning workouts. Here are great options based on your capabilities:
If you are new to working out, try:
- Walking – Low impact cardio
- Bodyweight squats
- Modified plank
- Assisted pull ups
- Seated crunches
Build an exercise base with simpler moves before progressing to more intense workouts.
With some workout experience, include:
- Kettlebell swings
- Incline push ups
- Bear crawls
- Hover planks
Up the intensity with weighted, unstable, and explosive exercises to keep challenging your body.
If you workout regularly, try:
- Pull ups
- Barbell deadlifts
- Hanging leg raises
Amp up your workouts with challenging bodyweight moves, heavy lifting, and plyometrics to take your fat burning to the next level.
How to Start an Exercise Routine to Lose Belly Fat
Beginning a new workout program to lose belly fat may seem daunting. Here are some tips for getting started:
Set Specific Goals
Determine your motivations and set concrete goals like losing 2 inches off your waist or fitting into smaller jeans. This will help you stay focused and consistent.
Block out time in your daily planner and treat exercise sessions like important appointments. Plan to workout at least 3-5 days per week for at least 30-45 minutes per session.
Mix Up Your Workouts
For the best results, combine different types of exercise like strength training, HIIT, and cardio. This will help you burn maximum fat from your belly and entire body.
Don’t overdo it right away and risk burnout or injury. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. Allow your body time to rest and recover as well.
Track Your Progress
Keep a fitness journal, take measurements, and track progress pictures. This can help you stay motivated and catch small changes.
Address Problem Areas
Do an extra 5 minutes of planks if your lower belly needs toning, or add in extra lunges to lift and tighten your glutes. Spot train problem areas.
Consistent hard work will start to reveal those abs under your belly fat. Stick with your program and be patient for the best results over time.
Home Workout Plan to Lose Belly Fat
If going to a gym isn’t realistic, you can still torch belly fat with workouts at home. Follow this sample weekly home workout schedule:
Cardio – Jumping jacks 4×30 seconds, rest 30 seconds between sets
Core – Plank 3×30 seconds, side plank each side 3×20 seconds
Legs – Bodyweight squats 3×15 reps
Rest day – Try light walking or stretching.
HIIT – Jump rope, shuffle side to side, jog in place, high knees for 30 seconds each, repeat circuit 3x with 30 seconds rest between exercises
Upper Body – Push ups 3×10 reps, shoulder press with weights 3×10 reps each side
Core – Crunches 3×20 reps, leg raises 3×15 reps
Cardio – Jump rope 4×60 seconds, rest 30 seconds between sets
Legs – Sumo squats 3×12 reps each side, lunges 3×10 reps each leg
Arms – Bicep curls with weights 3×10 reps each arm, tricep extensions with weight 3×10 reps
Cardio – High knees 4×30 seconds, rest 30 seconds between sets
Core – Sit ups 3×20 reps, Russian twists 3×20 reps each side
Back – Superman extensions 3×15 reps, bird dogs 3×10 reps each side
Get creative with household items like canned goods, water bottles, towels, and stairs when working out at home. Interval style training also ups the burn without needing lots of equipment.
Common Mistakes That Slow Belly Fat Loss
If your belly fat won’t budge, you may be making some common mistakes. Avoid these pitfalls for better results:
- Not lifting weights – Cardio alone won’t reshape your body. Strength training preserves and builds metabolism-boosting muscle.
- Overdoing steady state cardio – Walking or slow jogging has benefits, but won’t burn belly fat. Include high intensity intervals.
- Ignoring nutrition – You can’t out-exercise a poor diet high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and excess calories.
- Insufficient sleep – Not getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep fuels cortisol and hunger hormones that lead to belly fat.
- Too much stress – Manage daily stress to prevent chronically elevated cortisol.
- Crash dieting – Severely restricting calories slows your metabolism. Eat in a moderate calorie deficit instead.
Avoid these traps for a comprehensive approach that will have you losing fat from your midsection and overall body.
Burning stubborn belly fat requires persistence and hard work, but is completely achievable. Combining strength training, core exercises, HIIT, and cardio along with proper nutrition and recovery will start stripping fat from your midsection. Stick with a program for at least 12 weeks for noticeable changes.
Focus on total body health through smart exercise choices, a balanced diet, stress management, and quality sleep. Be patient and believe in the process. Your hard-earned flat and toned tummy will soon be within reach! Just stay consistent and keepburning belly fat with effective workouts tailored to your needs.