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10 Belly Fat Exercises, Tips and More

By Elisa Snyder

Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, RD

Expert-reviewed

When it comes to reducing belly fat, targeted exercises don’t work. However, you can do a few exercises to reduce overall body fat levels. Read on for more.


Reminder: You look amazing at any size. But if you're looking for ways to trim a little bit of belly fat to reach or maintain a healthy weight, belly fat exercises can help you reach your goals.

 

But where should you begin?

 

First, find a place where you can get your body moving — which looks different for everybody. For you, it could mean the living room, the garage or the yoga studio down the street.

 

We’re fastening our sweatbands right alongside you to step, lunge and twist through this list of exercises to help burn belly fat and empower your healthiest body.

Types of belly fat and the dangers

Before diving into exercises for fat loss, it is important to understand the different types of belly fat. While the term “belly fat” is used interchangeably to refer to the general softness around your abdomen, there are actually two types: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Each type affects the body in unique ways.

Subcutaneous fat

The majority of our body fat is made up of subcutaneous fat, which is the protective fat layer under your skin. Subcutaneous fat is good for your body at healthy levels, protecting you in ways such as:[1]

 

●       Safeguarding muscles and bones

●       Regulating body temperature

●       Connecting blood vessels and nerves to muscles and bones

 

Excess subcutaneous fat isn’t inherently dangerous to your health. However, its presence could be a signal that your body is also harboring excess visceral fat — the type of fat that can lead to illness.

Visceral fat

Visceral fat is the more risk-prone of the two belly fat types. It forms deep below the surface, creating a layer of fat that encases your abdominal organs. Accounting for only about one-tenth of your overall body fat, excess visceral fat can lead to other health concerns including:[2]

 

●       Type 2 diabetes

●       Heart disease

●       Stroke

●       Alzheimer’s

●       High cholesterol

 

Visceral fat is the type of fat you want to target when seeking and trying belly fat exercises to lose weight and work toward a healthy lifestyle.

Exercises that won’t burn belly fat

While you might think that increasing your crunches or doing extra sit-ups will melt fat around your tummy, those aren’t the only exercises that can target your waistline. In fact, they won’t move the needle much at all.

 

Instead, turn to exercises that increase your heart rate and burn calories. This will not only help improve your overall wellness, but it will also do more for burning belly fat and trimming that unwanted visceral fat. Remember, exercise is part of the journey. Lifestyle and diet, such as creating a meal plan for weight loss, can also have a significant impact.

The 10 best exercises for burning belly fat

When you’re looking to get rid of visceral belly fat, the best exercises burn calories while they sculpt and tone the abdominal muscles. Whether it’s a quick heart-rate booster or a slow-and-steady tone, getting your body moving will help to reduce and keep away excess belly fat.

 

It's important to note that no one exercise can target a specific area of your body. But a healthy diet paired with regular exercise can help improve your overall body composition.

 

Always make sure to consult your physician before starting a new exercise or diet program.

#1 HIIT (high-intensity interval training)

If you’re strapped for time and want a high-impact workout, HIIT is the perfect option for strengthening muscles and burning fat. The quick, intense energy bursts of anaerobic exercise followed by brief rest periods rapidly increase heart rate and boost stamina.

 

HIIT exercises are great for burning calories and can also be applied to a variety of different exercise movements, such as running, dancing or climbing stairs.[3]

 

Example workout: Do a high-intensity exercise (like running, high-knees, burpees or jumping jacks) for 30 seconds, then alternate to low-intensity exercise like walking for the following 30 seconds. Repeat for a total time of 20 minutes.

#2 Running or jogging

Simple exercises, such as running, can provide overall benefits and burn overall body fat. When you want to get your exercise al fresco, running lets you explore new scenery while gaining a calorie-burning workout.

 

Whether you’re looping around your neighborhood park or pounding the treadmill pavement, aerobic exercises like running help you lose weight by burning fat and toning muscles. Running also helps build endurance and tones and strengthens your leg muscles while you’re actively working to lower your BMI.

 

If you’re new to the sport — start slow! We recommend walking for 15 minutes a day and then gradually adding time and intensity from there.

Photo by: adamkaz on iStock

woman running

#3 Planks

The ultimate core exercise for strengthening abdominal muscles, planking requires you to activate every muscle in your body — from your abdomen to your glutes.

 

In a plank, you’re burning calories while holding yourself perfectly straight, remaining stable on your hands or forearms. You can start with a few short seconds and set time goals to beat as you get stronger. (Competitive? This exercise is for you.)

#4 Kettlebell swing

If you attend a fitness center or have a well-stocked home gym, kettlebell swings are perfect exercises for full body strengthening and conditioning that also help to burn body fat. Once you get the proper technique down for safety, you can increase the weight of the kettlebell as you improve your squat and lift form.

 

This exercise can benefit your entire body, and it may also help reduce your belly fat. Kettlebell swings work both upper- and lower-body muscles including:[4]

 

●       Your glutes

●       Your hamstrings

●       Your upper back

 

To avoid injury, start with a lighter weight and work your way up to heavier weights. Pro tip: Work with a personal trainer to perfect your form.

#5 Burpees

Everyone’s favorite exercise. Jokes aside, this is one activity that will get your heart rate up quickly! Combining a push-up and a jump, a burpee is similar to a squat thrust. It’s a highly effective full-body exercise that quickly burns calories while improving strength and endurance.

 

Starting in a squat, you shoot your legs out and back in, then jump into the air, finally returning to the squatting position. You can build up the number and frequency of the continuous out, in, up, and down motions until it feels natural and empowering. This Superman-like exercise is one that the kids will want to join in on too.

Photo by: Solstock on iStock

women doing burpees

#6 Russian twists

When you want a tummy-toning workout that targets your obliques, try Russian twists. If you’re wondering how to lose inches off your waist, this can be an effective exercise. A more advanced abdomen workout than your typical sit-up, Russian twists involve holding a semi-upright position with legs bent and lifted and back straight and halfway to sitting while twisting the upper body side to side, focusing on every abdominal muscle around your waistline.

#7 Mountain climbers

An incredible core workout, mountain climbers activate and strengthen your central core muscles in a similar way to planks. The alternating movements of pulling each knee into the chest and back again make it a surprisingly excellent cardio burn, boosting heart rate and increasing endurance. Climb to the top of that mountain and watch your belly fat melt away.

#8 Jumping jacks

For a tried and true exercise you might remember from seventh-grade gym class, jumping jacks are an easy, quick, equipment-free way to get your cardio in and burn calories. The seemingly simple movement can be an excellent way to warm up your muscles and get your heart rate pumping so your body can get to burning fat.  

 

To add some more excitement to this exercise, try these variations:

 

●       Jumping jacks with a jump rope

●       Jumping jack into a squat

●       Jumping jacks to the rhythm of your favorite upbeat song

#9 Power walking

If you experience knee or joint discomfort, power walking might be a welcome alternative to running or HIIT exercises. Power walking, or walking at a fast speed, is a gentler way to benefit from cardio. It’s also an excuse to spend time outdoors and enjoy the fresh air.

 

Simply slide on a comfortable pair of sneakers, focus on keeping your core tight, and step spritely off toward the sunset (or sunrise). Bonus points if your route has lots of hills: walking on an incline adds an extra challenge to this move.

#10 Yoga

Practicing yoga is filled with physical as well as mental and emotional benefits. It can offer stability, flexibility, and peace of mind while helping your body metabolize calories into sustainable energy.

 

Plus, yoga is also a fabulous stress reducer. Increased cortisol levels due to stress have been associated with excess belly fat, so the meditative mindset of yoga practice can help keep cortisol levels low.[5]

 

Photo by: PeopleImages on iStock

woman doing yoga

Find your healthiest self with Jenny Craig

If trimming a little bit of weight around your midsection is on your list of wellness goals, take a step toward a healthier lifestyle with any one of these exercises for belly fat[1] . Do them for ten minutes, twenty minutes, or whatever you have time for.

 

For more tips on finding your healthiest you, get support from Jenny Craig. We’ve built an entire community of people who are working just like you to achieve their health and wellness goals. Our plans offer nutritious meals and food for weight loss, helpful coaching and more.

 

When you’re committed to living a healthier lifestyle, Jenny Craig is here for you. Start your journey today.

pricing-and-plans-jenny-craig

 

Sources:

[1] Cleveland Clinic. Subcutaneous Fat. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23968-subcutaneous-fat#

[2] WebMD. What is Visceral Fat? https://www.webmd.com/diet/what-is-visceral-fat

[3] The Nutrition Source. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/high-intensity-interval-training/

[4] Healthline. The Benefits of Kettlebell Swings and How to Do Them Right. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness/benefits-of-kettle-bell-swings/

[5] Current Obesity Reports. Stress and Obesity: Are There More Susceptible Individuals? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29663153/

Link [X] Transformative Exercises for Belly Fat

Quote

 

This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and reviewed by certified professionals. 


Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on the topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy. 

 

This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.

 

 

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Contributors

Elisa Snyder

By Elisa Snyder

Elisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. An endurance sports enthusiast, she is usually swimming in the pool, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Chico.

 

Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple
Briana Rodriquez, RD

Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, RD

Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.

Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)

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