Workouts Burn the Most Belly Fat?

Which Workouts Burn the Most Belly Fat?

Strength Training For Members

Ask any person at the gym what their most problematic body part is and they’ll likely say their midsection. Everyone wants a leaner, meaner stomach. Just look at the countless gimmicks and miracle potions on the market. Waist trainers promise to squeeze the fat out of your stomach. Diet pills claim to be able to shrink the fat cells. It hopefully goes without saying that neither of these work and, in the case of diet pills, can actually be dangerous.

So, what does work when it comes to burning belly fat? Keep scrolling for exercises that’ll help you achieve a more defined midsection in a healthy and sustainable way.

Why Targeting Abs is So Difficult

Before we get into the individual exercises, let’s talk about why getting a six-pack is so darn hard. There are a few reasons.

One reason is that people tend to train their core incorrectly. The go-to for many athletes is sit-ups. While sit-ups and crunches can indeed build strength (when done properly), there are a million and one other ways to build core strength. Furthermore, you need a variety of ab exercises so that you’re sure to cover all of the muscles wrapping around your midsection. This is what’s going to build more muscle and ultimately burn more belly fat.

The second reason that eliminating belly fat is so tricky is that it requires serious consistency. Stomach fat is usually the last thing to go away and the first thing to come back. The patience it takes to see results is sometimes, admittedly, frustrating.

And finally, if you want to tone your midsection, ab workouts aren’t enough. Precise and consistent nutrition has to be a part of your plan. The stomach is a stubborn area. It wants to hang onto fat, especially in women. So, understanding your daily caloric needs, in addition to your macronutrient needs, is going to be a huge piece of the puzzle.

Another piece of the puzzle? Exercise. Let’s get into it.

The Best Exercises and What Makes Them Effective

To be clear, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are countless ways to trim belly fat and build strength in your abs. That being said, let’s go over seven exercises you can do to tone your tummy and improve your body composition.

Tempo Coach Melissa Walking Outside (9.7 Blog Inline 1)

1. Walking

If you can walk, you can reduce your belly fat. You’re probably thinking, “That’s not nearly strenuous enough to burn calories and lose fat.” And that’s understandable! Sure enough, you do have to walk at a certain intensity in order to see results.

What matters is your heart rate zone. In order to hit the fat-burning zone, you need to be somewhere between 60% and 80% of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Then, you can multiply that number by 0.6, and a second time by 0.8, to get that range. For example, let’s say you’re 50 years old.

220 – 50 = 170

So, 170 is your maximum heart rate.

170 x 0.6 = 102

170 x 0.8 = 136

This means that in order to hit the fat-burning zone when you’re walking, you want your heart rate to be between 102 and 136 beats per minute.

Keep in mind that because this is still a low-intensity workout, you want to try to last longer. Aim for 45 minutes to an hour of walking. (It’s okay if you have to work your way up to this!)

2. Vertical Leg Raises

You don’t always need equipment to reduce belly fat. Sometimes, the weight of your own body is enough. With vertical leg raises, you lay flat on the floor, pull your belly button toward the ground, and engage your core to lift your legs until (ideally) your feet are pointing at the ceiling. What you’re resisting, in this case, is gravity. 

There are countless ways to make this more challenging as you build strength. You can slow down the movement to increase your time under tension. For example, you might lift and lower your legs for a count of five seconds each way. For the duration of the movement, you could lift your upper body off the ground like you would in a crunch and hold it there. This further engages your lower abs, specifically. Or, at the top of the leg lift, you can lift your hips off the ground to further trigger those core muscles.

Windshield wipers are another cool variation of leg raises. Instead of bringing your legs straight up and down, you would lower and lift them to each side, alternating, like wipers! Spread your arms out to the side to stabilize your upper body.

Womens-Leggings-Block Grey-Yellow-White Running up Hill (Blog 9.7 Inline 2)

3. Running at an Incline

Strict cardio like running won’t necessarily be what you need to get a more defined midsection. However, running at an incline is another story. Whether you’re going uphill or changing the incline of your treadmill, this approach can offer some unique benefits.

Remember what we said about leg raises forcing you to fight gravity? It’s a similar situation here. You’re running at an angle, which means that gravity is acting on you in a different way than if you were running on a flat surface. When running uphill, gravity is still pushing you down but slightly from the front. Think of it like running against the wind. Your body is going to have to work harder to cover the same distance or run at the same speed.

Running at an incline is going to make your lungs, heart, and other muscles work harder, which leads to greater engagement head to toe (including your core) and a bigger calorie burn. If you love cardio but still want to work on your abs, this is a great compromise.

Start with a modest incline and increase it over time. As your body adapts, remember to keep to challenging yourself.

4. Weight and Strength Training

When a lot of athletes think of trimming belly fat, their minds immediately (and understandably) go to cardio. But cardio alone isn’t enough to stay lean. If you want significant and lasting results, you have to be doing some sort of weight training.

This could be bodybuilding, Olympic weightlifting, functional fitness, powerlifting, or something else entirely. As long as it incorporates some sort of resistance, you’re on the right track. This includes kettlebell swings, seated dumbbell presses, and deadlifts.

The reason this type of training is so important for losing body fat is that muscle tissue is what’s going to help your body continue burning calories even at rest after your workout has concluded. Strict cardio, on the other hand, mostly burns calories only during the workout itself.

To be clear, we’re not saying that cardio doesn’t offer other benefits. It certainly does! However, when it comes to losing belly fat, strength training is a must.

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5. Pilates

Pilates workouts were made to help you tone your midsection. (Well, technically, they were made to help dancers recover from injury.) One of Pilates’ guiding principles is the use of the core to stabilize the body, along with controlled breathing, which also challenges your abdominal muscles.

As an added bonus, because Pilates helps you become more aware of your body, you’ll know how to better utilize your core during other exercises, which will help you build strength and lean out further. This comes in handy for everything from your traditional sit-ups to squats, which also demand a solid trunk. (More on that in a minute.)

Another reason we love Pilates exercises is that a pillar of the practice is the importance of quality of movement over the speed you perform it at or the number of reps you do. Your abs are vital simply to sit, stand, and walk, so quality is as important as quantity — if not more important. We train our core for aesthetics, sure. But we also need a strong core to complete even mundane tasks like bringing the groceries inside.

Tempo Coach Melissa Lunge Outside (9.7 Blog Inline 3)

6. Lunges and Squats

These aren’t two exercises you’d normally think of to tone your belly, but lunges and squats require tremendous core strength. Yes, it’s your hips and legs that help you stand up. But without engaging your core, you would fall over at the waist. Your body would actually collapse.

Now, imagine adding weight into the mix. If you put a barbell on your back and then try to perform lunges or squats without using your core muscles, again, you’d topple right over. Your abs have to fight to keep that weight upright and in the correct position.

Don’t believe us? Next time you’re doing heavy squats, have a friend gently poke you in the stomach. We’re going to bet that you’re using your abs and don’t even realize it. Then, just for fun, completely let your ab muscles go and see what happens. Did you start slouching? That’s what happens without your core, and squatting like that will lead to a missed rep or worse, an injury.

7. Russian Twists 

Earlier we talked about needing a diverse set of exercises to ensure you’re hitting all the muscles of the midsection. Russian twists are so promising because they trigger your oblique muscles, which run along the sides of your core. This helps to give you more definition around your waist.

Additionally, your obliques play an important role beyond aesthetics. They support you during movements that require you to bend or rotate at the waist (which can be a vulnerable position for the body), and also help to protect your spine. So, strengthening your obliques is great for your physique and your overall safety and wellness.

Start with bodyweight Russian twists. Remember to squeeze your abs the whole time. If these aren’t challenging enough, hold a plate, dumbbell, or kettlebell in your hands and tap the ground with it each time you twist.

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