Belly Fat Exercises According to Science

Introduction

Exercise is any form of body motion that enhances physical fitness and overall health and wellness.  There are belly fat exercises that specifically help you lose more fat.

Lots of research already show that exercises help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, maintain muscle mass and reduce your risk of chronic disease. (1,2,3,4)

Asides the common benefit of weight loss, it also helps you maintain good energy levels. (5)

However, it is important to know that not all exercises are created equal. Some are more effective for burning belly fat than others.

Now, we’ll take a look at Specific belly fat exercises that can help you burn belly fat.

Strength Training

By far one of the most effective exercise strategies on the belly fat exercises list.

It may also be referred to as anaerobic exercise because it doesn’t depend on atmospheric oxygen to fuel the muscles.

Strength Training Exercises are great for building muscles.

It directly uses up the oxygen and glycogen (fuel) already stored inside muscle tissues.

Increases muscle bulk and strength

Weight training can help you build strength and promote muscle growth. This raises your resting metabolic rate (RMR) or how many calories your body burns at rest. (6)

Raises Calories you burn at rest

This research showed that it helps preserve fat-free mass, which can increase the number of calories your body burns at rest (7)

Another study demonstrated that 10 weeks of resistance training could help increase calories burned at rest by 7% and may reduce fat weight by 4 pounds (1.8 kg). (8)

Burns fat hours after exercise

This effect is called the After Burn effect is due to Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Numerous studies have shown that your body continues to burn calories many hours after a weight-training workout, compared with aerobic exercise (9,10,11)

Women who didn’t lift weights lost weight too, but they also lost more muscle mass and experienced a drop in metabolism(12)

How many reps should I do for strength training?

  • For muscular endurance, do two to three sets of 12 reps or more at 60 to 70 percent of your max.
  • To gain muscle mass (hypertrophy), do three to six sets of six to 12 reps at 70 to 80 percent of your max.
  • For muscular strength, do two to six sets of less than six reps at 80 to 90 percent of your max.

Beginner Belly Fat Exercises (Home routine).

Home Strength training workout
  • Body weight squats: 20 reps.
  • Push-ups: 10 reps.
  • Walking lunges: 10 each leg.
  • Dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug or another weight): 10 each arm.
  • Plank: 15 seconds.
  • Jumping Jacks: 30 reps

Ways to split your workout for muscle gain?

4 Day Split #1 – Chest and Triceps, Back and Biceps

  • Monday – Chest, Triceps and Abs.
  • Tuesday – Back and Biceps (Forearms may also be added)
  • Wednesday – OFF.
  • Thursday – Shoulders, Traps and Abs.
  • Friday – Quads, Hamstrings and Calves.
  • Saturday – OFF.
  • Sunday – OFF.

Cardio

Also called aerobic exercise includes like running, cycling, swimming, jogging. Arguably the most common belly fat exercises.

It can be done over a longer period of time and also at lower intensity.

Cardio at Home

You can always adjust your activity to match your comfort level. You will still burn some fat, though more slowly than if you were doing intense cardio.

One review of 16 studies found that the more aerobic exercise people got, the more belly fat they lost. (13)

Most research recommends between 150–300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise weekly, or roughly 20–40 minutes of cardio each day. (14)

Also has multiple benefits

Can lift your mood, boost your mental health, help you sleep better and even enhance your sex life. (15,16,17)

Better with Strength training

This study showed that 12 weeks of strength training paired with aerobic exercise was more effective at reducing body fat and belly fat than aerobic exercise alone. (18)

Running
Examples includes
  • Walking (Burns 300-400 Calories Per Hour)
  • Running (Burns Around 600 Calories Per Hour)
  • Cycling (Burns Around 600 Calories Per Hour)
  • Rowing (Burns Around 840 Calories Per Hour)
  • Swimming (Burns Around 600 Calories Per Hour)
  • Jumping Rope (Burns Over 1000 Calories Per Hour)
Others
  • Burpees
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Squat Jumps
  • Kickboxing
  • Dancing
  • Running the Stairs
  • Jogging in Place

Should I do cardio or weights first?

The majority of fitness experts will advise you to do the cardio after the weight training, because if you do cardio first, it uses up much of the energy source for your anaerobic work (strength training) and fatigues the muscles before their most strenuous activity.

Interval Training

Interval training is a form of exercise routine during which you alternate between periods of highly intense activity and periods of lower intensity recovery periods.

An example would be running up a staircase as fast as you can (high intensity) and walking down slowly (low intensity).

Interval training

You can also do it with a skipping rope.

Jump as fast as you can for one minute, rest for 30 seconds and repeat.

It’s a very effective way of burning fat because it combines some form of both anaerobic and aerobic exercises making burn even more fat.

A study showed that young men performing HIIT for 20 minutes three times weekly lost an average of 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of body fat over a 12-week period, even with no other changes to their diet or lifestyle. They also experienced a 17% reduction in belly fat as well as a significant decrease in waist circumference.(19)

Takes less Time

A huge benefit of interval training is that it saves time. You only need max of 10 -15 mins of exercise time to get what a 30 minute cardio would do for you.

Researchers have showed that performing HIIT helped people burn up to 30% more calories than other types of exercise, such as cycling or jogging, in the same amount of time. (20)

One study in 9 active men found that HIIT burned 25–30% more calories per minute than other types of exercises, including weight training, cycling, and running on a treadmill. (20)

Downside…

The challenge with interval training is that it can be really strenuous. I would not advice you to start with intervals as belly fat exercises if you are still a beginner with exercises. Wait till you build up some endurance.

Its easy to get injured if you overdo it or do it improperly.

Limiting it to about 2 or 3 times a week is sufficient to help you burn a lot of fat.

A basic HIIT running workout.

  • Run/jog at a brisk pace for 30 seconds.
  • Jog/walk at a slower pace for 2 minutes.
  • After your rest, shoot for another 30 second run/jog.
  • Continue until you get tired or after about ten “push/rest” intervals.
People who should probably avoid HIIT workouts
  • People who are injured.
  • Women who are pregnant.
  • Women who are in the first 3-6 months postpartum.
  • People who are immune suppressed and/or sick.
  • People who have a heart condition or have recently undergone cardiac surgery.

Walking

We all know how to walk.

And you can use it to your advantage in other to lose weight.

Walking

According to Harvard Health, it’s estimated that a 155-pound (70-kg) person burns around 167 calories per 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace of 4 mph (6.4 km/h). (21)

A 12-week study in 20 women with obesity found that walking for 50–70 minutes 3 times per week reduced body fat and waist circumference by an average of 1.5% and 1.1 inches (2.8 cm), respectively. (22)

At times, you can also up the ante by going for a jog or a run.

Several studies have found that jogging and running great belly fat exercises that can help burn harmful visceral fat, commonly known as belly fat. (23,24,25)

Completing an extra 10,000 steps each day typically burns about 2000 to 3500 extra calories each week. 

You can use your pedometer steps to calculate your calories burned walking. Your calories per step will depend on your weight and height.

While any exercise can burn calories, brisk walking for 45 minutes mobilizes the body to dip into fat reserves and burn stored fat.

It’s especially effective for burning internal belly fat, known as visceral fat, that not only contributes to the waistline but also raises the risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Habit Formation

This Last point is what I will call “Mental exercise”.

Physical exercise exercise is also a mental activity.

The first time you start an exercise program would probably be the easiest and most interesting experience because of your excitement.

Subsequently, you may find it increasingly difficult to do follow through.

Motivation may be lacking or you might just not have the time.

But there is a way out.

Make it into a habit.

Research shows that, it is easier for people to maintain an exercise routine in the long term if they make it a habit and do it regularly. (26)

A Habit is something we do automatically, without effort. Sometimes, we don’t even know know when we do them.

It is often said that about 80% of your day is done by habit.

How powerful is that?

It simply means, the building blocks of your life are built by habits.

Another study revealed that replacing an unhealthy behavior with a new healthy habit is a great approach to maintaining it in the long term. (26)

That is why habits can make or break you.

In other to get the body you want. It would be absolutely necessary to make exercise a habit.

But how the hell do you do that?

There is a concept in taught by Chris Duhigg in his book The Power of Habits.

It describes how a habit is formed.

Habit Loop
A habit is made up of
  • A Cue
  • A routine and
  • A reward.

The key to forming habits is to structure activities you want to make into a habit this way.

  • Pick a specific trigger for it (Cue).
  • Do the routine.
  • Reward yourself on following through.

Your cue could be anything. It could be a certain time or activity.

For instance, a cue most people use is waking up from sleep.

On waking up from sleep, they go straight to doing their workouts. This works in most cases because, willpower is strongest in the morning. Therefore they can easily follow through.

When you pick a time. Commit to doing only the your workout for only one minute.

That’s all you have to commit to. If you can do this you have succeeded for the day.

This cue when applied, can make your body more ready for your exercise routine. So even when you don’t feel like exercising, just doing minimum one minute can put you in the mood for more.

On the other hand warm up stretches improves your flexibility and help reduce soreness after your workout. (27)

A reward could be anything. A cold shower, a cup of coffee, a cool glass of water or checking off your calendar.

The 21/90 rule.

Another popular method to build habits is called the 21/90 rule.

The rule is simple enough.

It states that it takes 21 days to make a habit and 90 days to make it a permanent lifestyle change.

Commit to your exercise goal for 21 straight days. After three weeks, the pursuit of that goal should have become a habit.

Commit to your goal for 90 days and it will become a part of your lifestyle.

Support

Having support around you for your workout can be very helpful.

A study found that joining a gym or group fitness class like yoga or Pilates, hiring a personal trainer or doing team sports are also good ideas to increase motivation and enjoyment. (28)

In other words, don’t go it alone.

Conclusion

Burning belly fat with exercises is a very important strategy for weight loss. However, you have to know what you are doing. Else you will get subpar results.

I would love to show you example exercises you cal do from the comfort of your home. Get them here.

Please do leave a comment telling us your best form of exercise.

You may also leave your questions.

Stay Active 😉

Your friend Chigozie

2 Comments

  1. Nice write up, the part on how to inculcate habits was helpful. Thanks 👍

    • Gozie Ezeh Reply

      Thanks Awesome.
      I’m glad you found it helpful. 🙂

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