The Complete Fat Burning Guide: Fitness Exercises To Lose Stomach Fat
In this post, we will discuss the best fitness exercises to lose stomach fat. You will learn what the best approach is for not only losing that gut but getting rid of it for good. Read the article, and go to work, the summer is just around the corner!
First Things First: Is Targeted Fat Loss A Myth?
Targeted fat loss, which is a concept of only losing fat in one specific body part is something many fitness products claim to do. Vibration belts, special herbal cremes and similar “magical” solutions that will melt your fat away are a waste of money. The only spot, or targeted fat reduction is liposuction, done by a plastic surgeon. If you don’t want that, you need to take a less radical approach.
While spot reduction isn’t possible, that doesn’t mean exercising is useless when it comes to fat loss, on the contrary. We will discuss it later in the article, but we need to go through some general information about human body fat first.
What Is Fat, And Why Do We Store It Around Our Waistline?
While fat doesn’t look nice (at least not by modern beauty standards), it does have a role and is essential for our health. In fact, humans, as species that dominates the earth, have the ability to store enormous amounts of fat and to accumulate fat reasonably quickly, at least when compared to other animals.
Fat is essentially stored energy, and from an evolutionary perspective, our ability to create and store it is what got us to modern times. In nature, food is scarce, and finding something to eat the next day isn’t granted. Fat stores allow us to survive even when there is no food. In a fasted state, our body will start breaking down the fat (but also muscles, if you don’t do things right) using the stored energy for survival.
But why do we carry so much of it in our midsection? Having belly fat serves as a protective layer for vital organs, guarding us against harm, falls, and mechanical damage, but also is insulation from weather conditions.
Still, it is noticeable that men tend to carry more stomach fat than women, and it’s because of hormones. Testosterone makes men store most fat on their belly, while estrogen makes women spread fat around more, storing them on their thighs, arms, hips, and the abdomen to some extent.
And not every fat is the same. Fat stored in the abdomen is mostly visceral, while fat stored on the hips, thighs, arms, and buttocks is more subcutaneous. The visceral fat is more dangerous, as it makes vital organs fatty, which is why men have more heart problems, as testosterone makes them store more belly fat.
How To Get Rid Of Stomach Fat?
This is a complicated question, and you should approach it in this order:
2. Fitness Exercises To Lose Stomach Fat
3. Rest And Recovery
4. Repeat Forever!
But, because this article focuses on exercising as the main way of losing stomach fat, we will stick to that. Although there is a lot to cover, once you start doing it, you will see how it all makes sense, and that it is not that difficult to follow through, you just need the right motivation and willingness to keep going. Let’s go!
Fitness Exercises To Lose Stomach Fat
This is what you came here for, we’re going to talk about exercises you can do to get rid of the belly fat. Yes, there is no spot reduction, but exercising helps a lot, and here’s how:
Embrace Resistance Training
While cardio is the first thing that comes to mind when speaking about fat loss, resistance training is what you should do if you want to achieve body recomposition when in a caloric deficit.
Without resistance training, you will lose weight when on a diet, but you won’t lose only fat, but muscles too. If you don’t use muscles, your body will treat them as a surplus and will start breaking them down, as they require a lot of calories to maintain.
But, if you exercise, your muscles won’t get treated as useless, and your body will try to keep them, as long as you intake enough protein. In fact, some people (beginners mostly) are able to build new muscles even when in a caloric deficit.
What’s more, because muscles require a tone of calories, maintaining or increasing their mass while losing weight will push fat loss even further. Not only that, but you will look much better, as you will have a much better muscle/fat ratio when you weight train.
If you skip weights while dieting, you risk ending up with that unhealthy skinny-fat look. Yes, your body weight will go down, but you won’t look attractive. That’s why it’s essential to hit the gym when on a restrictive diet.
Which Exercises To Choose And How To Workout When On A Diet?
Our approach is to hit big, compound movements, and do full-body workouts 3x per week, that’s it.
Doing exercises such as the squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, pullups/chinups, barbell rows, and similar, that hit multiple muscle groups at once. These exercises burn a tone of calories, and they give you a lot of bang for your buck, as you don’t need to worry about isolation work.
Here’s an example workout:
- 1 Lower body exercise (squat/front squat/deadlift/sumo deadlift/lunge/leg press) – 8 reps
- 1 Upper Body Push (overhead press/bench press/incline press) – 8 reps
- 1 Upper Body Pull (pullup/chinup/barbell or dumbbell row/inverted row) – 8 reps
You do one set of each exercise, rest for 60 seconds, and repeat the cycle four times. You switch exercises every workout. So an example workout would be:
(repeat four times)
Finally, we have ab exercises. While this was probably the first thing you thought about when thinking about fitness exercises to lose stomach fat, it is actually something that’s not going to help, at least not on it’s own.
Abs are like any other muscle, you work them, eat protein, and they grow. However, as long as they are covered with fat, you won’t see any progress.
But, doing abs (planks, crunches, weighted crunches, hanging leg raises…) even before you lose the fat is good as it builds up your muscles, making those “separations” bigger, and shortening the time it takes for you to see the six-pack. And, having strong abs is excellent for your overall posture and stability, as they are involved in pretty much any type of movement. They translate well to other lifts and sports too.
Exercises You Should Also Consider
Here are some exercises that you can use if you want to create a short, but intensive, muscle building + fat frying workout.
Kettlebell Swings And Snatches
Kettlebells are a superb piece of equipment, favored by CrossFit athletes. What makes them unique is their shape and the way you hold them. That shape makes kettlebell “unstable,” which will require more from your muscles, stimulating better growth but also burning more calories.
Explosive movements like kettlebell swings and snatches are perfect, hybrid movements that will train your whole body, while simultaneously burning an enormous amount of fat.
You can do Tabata kettlebell workouts, combining 30 seconds of swings/snatches, followed by 60 seconds of jumping rope, burpees, jumping jacks, or something similar.
Medicine Ball Slams
This exercise is super fun—you are slamming a heavy medicine ball off the floor, after all—but also a terrific way to burn calories. Although it doesn’t sound like super hard, do it for 30 seconds, and then think again. If you do it with max power, your heart will be racing, and you will be dripping in sweat. But this is not just cardio, medicine ball slams are one of the best exercises you can do for your core.
Another super fun exercise is battle ropes. Like medicine ball slams, this one also engages your core hard, but also shoulders, back, and hands. Not to mention that it burns a tone of calories. Battle rope waves are one of the more interesting ways to train, burning fat while also practicing coordination, and getting stronger. If your gym has a battle rope station, make sure you use it.
Farmer’s walks are one of the best exercises for building pure grip strength. The grip is where most exercises fail, and not training your grip is a big mistake. Having a strong one will help you deadlifts, but also pullups and chinups. Plus, a strong forearm is often visible and is one of the most attractive muscles you can have.
But, carrying heavy dumbbells around in circles is not good only for your forearms, it is excellent for burning fat too. Trust us, go for a few loops around the gym and see how it feels. Not only that you will get a huge forearm pump, looking like Popeye, but you will also be draining in sweat. And if you want to work on your chicken legs, try doing farmer’s walks on toes, it will pump up those calves like nothing else.
Tire & Sledgehammer
If you want to feel like a Viking, grab a sledgehammer and hit some tractor tires! This whole-body movement will fry calories while simultaneously working your core, back, arms, well almost every muscle in your body. It is incredibly draining, and you won’t be able to do it for long. Use it in short, 30-60 second increments, and mix it with other exercises to create a mini, fat-frying workout.
Heavy Bag Rounds
There’s a reason why even most heavyweights are shredded—boxing burns a lot of calories. If your gym has a heavy bag, make sure to use it. It will not only trim your gut but also build up your arms and shoulders. And of course, practicing your hooks, jabs and even kicks is a smart thing to do, you never know…
Cardio has two purposes, one is improving health, as it is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and the other is burning fat, which again directly correlates to health. This makes cardio an automatic choice for any goal, especially losing that stomach fat. So why it isn’t in the first place?
Well, if you only do cardio when in a caloric deficit, you risk burning muscles, especially of your upper body. And when you start losing muscles, your metabolism will slow down, and your body will require fewer calories for maintenance, which will mean you will have to further reduce the amount you intake or burn, leading to more muscle loss.
But, cardio is useful for burning those extra calories. It’s a much better idea to eat healthy, with a 20% caloric reduction, and to accompany that with weights and cardio, burning more, than to just follow a drastic crash diet.
As for the type of cardio, you can either choose steady-state or HIIT:
- For steady-state, you can pick something like cycling, walking on an incline, or elliptical workouts. Pick a moderately high pace, 60% of your max. You don’t want to lose your breath, but your heart should pump at a higher pace, and you should be sweating. Go for 30-40 minutes.
- If you want something shorter, HIIT will do. Here, it’s all about the intensity. You go all-in for 30 seconds, and follow it up with 60 seconds of that is 50% of your max. You repeat those cycles for 12-15 minutes. Your heart will race, and you will sweat like crazy, HIIT is no joke, but it works.
Interesting Cardio Options You Should Try
Swimming is a whole-body activity, and it will help you develop a nice looking frame, while simultaneously burning a lot of calories. Also, because you are in the water, swimming is suitable even for overweight, or individuals having joint issues, who have a hard time running or playing other sports. Moreover, swimming is incredibly relaxing and enjoyable, and it will help you de-stress. And we all know that stress is another factor that contributes to fat accumulation. Also, swimming is flexible, and you can either opt for slow and steady, or to go all in, and swim for laps.
Rowing is a very intensive form of low-impact cardio. Many well-equipped gyms have a rowing machine, and if your does too, you should definitely use it.
Rowing activates your legs, back and arms at the same time, giving you a total-body workout. It also turns on the furnace, burning an incredible amount of calories, even after a short time period. Therefore it is suitable for those of you who love higher intensity training and find regular, steady-state cardio boring.
And if you really like it, and have a river or lake close by, you can sign up for rowing classes at a local club, and spend time outside during the summer. That can also be an incredible social activity, which you can do with your friends over weekends.
You can burn 1000+ calories on a single spin class, making this activity one of the best choices if your primary goal is losing fat. Also, because spin classes are group, you will have a guided workout, which makes sure you give your maximal effort. And it is much more fun when you have other people around you working out hard.
If you ever used a stair master, you know the feeling when you are completely soaked just after three minutes on this beast. And it is a good feeling when you are towering the rest of the gym, climbing the endless staircase. Stair master is excellent for developing legs, but also glutes, which is why girls love them. But guys should use them too, primarily for fat-burning purposes. Plus, because you are continually climbing, stair master puts minimal pressure on joints, making it a very joint-friendly exercise.
If you can’t go to the gym, that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. You can get a decent jump rope for $10, and you can do intense cardio anywhere. Plus, a jump rope is small and lightweight, making it an incredible travel companion, and you can carry it with you anywhere. It not only fries calories, but also workouts out your calves, shoulders, and even hand-eye coordination.
Rest and Recovery
It’s important to prioritize sleep. Studies have shown that with each hour of sleep less, the obesity risk rises. Also, sleep is responsible for muscle growth and recovery, and you will work your whole body 3x per week, and plus do cardio.
Sleep is essential for proper hormonal balance too, which is important for regulating your metabolism. Therefore, eight hours every night is an absolute must. If you can’t meet that, then squeeze in afternoon naps, but try to meet eight hours every day.
As for the training frequency and intensity, don’t go overboard. 3x per week is more than enough, you are in a caloric deficit after all. Don’t go crazy on the weights, and use a day off between two training sessions. Monday-Wednesday-Friday is ideal, with weekends off. You can do cardio on your off-days, or after your weight workouts.
Guys, taking care of your nutrition, exercise and rest will get you results. However, if you want to keep the results, you need to continue taking care of your diet, exercise and rest, for good. If you stop, you will start developing the old habits that got you that beer gut in the first place.
Although getting ready for the summer is a reasonable goal, try to stay fit even after the vacation ends. You will not only look better but feel like never before. You know how the Latins said: Mens sana in corpore sano – A healthy mind in a healthy body!
How To Track Your Progress?
To track your progress, you will need two things: a scale and a tape measurer. Pick a day, and take your measurements on that day, in the morning, on an empty stomach, every single week.
The scale will tell you your bodyweight, and whether or not you gained or lost pounds. But the tape measurer is crucial here. You will use it to measure your waist circumference (soft spot half way between your ribs and your belly button). The number will tell you if you are losing belly fat or not.
Only by combining waist circumference and body fat measurements, you will be able to know if the weight you are losing/gaining is fat, or maybe muscle or water.
As you can see, we went deep into the details. Now you know what it takes to lose that stomach fat. The formula is not that complicated to follow, but it takes willpower.
However, you should start noticing results reasonably quickly. As soon as you cut out junk food, your weight should start dropping. Combine that with healthy cardio and weights, and you will notice the transformation happening in no time at all.
But remember, it is essential to keep it up. Think about this as a lifestyle, not only as meeting visual goals. You want to live a happy, healthy, long life, and getting rid of excess stomach fat is a good step towards achieving that. So what are you waiting for, pack that bag, and go to the gym now!