Whenever losing weight is mentioned, a lot of people have a particular area of their body that they want to focus on.
Sometimes it’s the thighs, sometimes it’s the hips and often it’s stomach.
When it comes to targeting specific areas of the body, through something called spot training – it’s not quite as easy as some people might have you believe.
You’ve probably seen countless articles or influencers out there harping on about how doing 500 crunches a day has given them their washboard abs. Now, while doing 500 crunches a day might give you some results, it’s not exactly sustainable. And on top of that, it will leave you so wrecked you end up neglecting other areas of your body.
There are certainly core-focused exercises that will help you tone your stomach and potentially shift your belly fat. However, core exercises also offer a variety of other strength benefits – which you can learn more about here.
When it comes to losing fat from your stomach (and the rest of your body for that matter), you do need to take a holistic approach to your health and your exercises.
To help get you started on shifting your stubborn tummy fat, we’ve put together a list of 13 exercises that can help get you on your way. Combining different exercises such as adding strength and cardio workouts with core exercises will also result in effective body fat reduction. Exercises such as HIIT, which are more core-focused but require support using other muscle groups, are an excellent combination for calorie burn.
Some of these exercises, you might already be familiar with, and some of them you might not realise how they can benefit your stomach.
But before we jump into the main event, let’s just talk for a second about your diet.
What You Eat Matters
It is important to take note of your eating habits when trying to reach your fitness goal.
It’s true what they say – you can’t out run a bad diet. A poor diet, whether you’re eating junk food, or not eating enough, will catch up on you. It impacts every aspect of your life, not only your physical fitness and health, but also your mental health. A poor diet can impact your mood, make you feel lethargic, cause you to put on weight and a variety of health issues.
Eating a balanced diet with vitamin-rich meals is necessary when you are starting a healthy lifestyle. If you are unsure what types of meal fit your diet, it is advisable that you consult a dietician or nutritionist.
Top Exercises to Tone Your Core
If you are looking for effective workouts for belly fat reduction, here are some of the best exercises according to personal trainers.
Yoga isn’t as effective in burning calories as running or HIIT, but it can help in building muscle and improving your endurance, which is effective in boosting your metabolism.
Among the highest calorie-blasting yoga poses include the chair, plank, wheel, and Chaturanga.
If you are unfamiliar with yoga and aren’t sure where to start, there are different types of yoga that offer the best practices suitable for your workout goals – give a local class a go, or you can opt for video classes online as well.
Burpees are effective for your triceps, quads, chest, shoulders, and lats. This movement is characterised by an explosive plyometric movement that is also good for the heart.
If there is an exercise that is universally despised, it is a burpee. But to be fair, they aren’t that bad once you get the hang of them.
As you do a low squat to lower your body towards the ground, send your hips back whole, standing with your feet shoulder-distance apart. After the low squat, place your hands outside of your feet at the same time, and hop back as you allow your chest to reach the floor.
In order to lift your body up into a plank, push your hands against the floor. Then, you want to push off with your feet so that you get them close to their starting position, outside your hands. Then you want to jump up so that your upright and do a small jump with your hands in the air.
For the advanced – you can add a medicine ball to the routine, where you lift it over your head while you’re still standing, throw it to the ground, before lowering into your burpee – just a thought!
3. Mountain Climbers
Like burpees, mountain climbers are also an excellent exercise for those who want to work with their core and other muscles.
Doing mountain climbers:
Start with a high-plank position with wrists placed under your shoulders. As you tighten your belly button towards the spine, keep your core tight. Move your right knee forward, towards your chest, and then move it back to the plank. Do the same steps using your left knee. Repeat, alternating legs.
You might be a little slow as you get started, but over time, you’ll be able to comfortably pick up the pace.
4. Side-to-Side Medicine Ball Slams
Ball slams are an explosive, highly metabolic, and dynamic exercise that can simultaneously target multiple groups.
On the surface, the hamstrings, biceps, quads, shoulders, and obliques are primarily used in this workout. However, as you continue your workout and you start feeling fatigued, other muscles all over the body may become involved as a secondary mover. Doing side-to-side ball slams over overhead slams requires additional oblique ab work.
Doing lateral medicine ball slams:
With the medicine ball on one side, stand with your feet, shoulder-width apart. Pick up the ball while rotating your body as you throw the ball a few inches away from your pinky toe. Make sure to move your feet and bend the back knee as you shift into a split squat position while catching the ball on one bounce—alternate sides. As you bring the ball over your head and to the side, keep your core tightened.
5. Overhead Medicine Ball Slams
As you struggle against gravity, overhead medicine ball slams improve your core. This exercise also develops your endurance since each time you take up the ball and bring it overhead, your heart rate increases. Make sure to utilise a heavy-weighted ball for this workout to get as much out of it.
Doing overhead medicine ball slams:
Hold the medicine ball with both hands while standing tall with your feet hip-width apart. Extend your body to reach both arms overhead, then slam the ball downwards towards the ground. Extend your arms towards the ground as you slam the ball while bending your knees if necessary as you hinge over. Take a squat to pick up the ball and then stand back up.
6. BOSU Ball Planks
It is a known fact that aerobic activities are necessary to burn the layer of fat sitting on top of the abdominal muscles.
Adam Sanford, CEO of New York City’s Adam Sanford Fitness, has a great recommendation for getting your abs working. One of his favourites is to use a BOSYU ball while holding a plank.
For those who don’t know, a BOSU ball are the ones that look like an exercise ball that has been cut in half. Since the BOSU challenges balance, it can be more difficult than a standard plank with your hands on the floor. According to Sanford, the obliques, abs, and deep, transverse abdominal muscles are stimulated as your body strives to regain control while your balance is being tested.
Strengthening your core muscles may also help in burning more calories and fat as it increases your metabolism.
Doing BOSU ball planks:
Hold the sides of the flat side of the ball with the ball side on the ground. Your hands will be roughly shoulder-width apart. Keep you body, except for your feet off the ground and in a straight line so you’re in a plank.
Hold the planking position for at least 30 to 45 seconds. Increase the duration as your strength improves.
If you’re struggling initially, you can get used to the movement and balance by planking from your knees up – it is less effective but may help you get used to it!
7. Russian Twists
Russian twist is a type of core workout that enhances oblique definition and strength. To do this exercise, you are required to twist your torso from side to side as you maintain a sit-up position with your feet off the ground, which is usually done with a plate or medicine ball.
Doing Russian twists:
To begin, you need to sit tall on the floor with your knees bent and feet raised off the ground.
Hold the medicine ball with your hands at chest height. Then, lean back with a long, tall spine, while your arms are a few inches from your chest and your body is at a 45-degree angle.
Move your torso right, pause, and squeeze your right oblique muscles, then turn your body left, pause, and squeeze your left oblique muscles. Instead of your arms, your ribs should be the source of movement.
8. Running On an Incline
Running on an incline versus a flat surface has been demonstrated to get you burning up to 50% more calories than on a flat surface. Begin with walking for five to ten minutes, whether you’re outside on a hill or in the gym on an inclined treadmill.
Doing this treadmill workout:
For five to ten minutes, walk or jog uphill. Maintain a five-to-ten-minute jog, then speed up your pace and begin running. Penfold advised that it does not necessarily need to be an all-outsprint but that you should be exercising hard enough to not be able to talk. Run and jog alternately for five minutes each for at least 30 to 45 minutes.
While steady-state exercise sessions were once thought to be the most effective for burning fat, we’ve learnt that brief, intense bursts of fast-paced cardio are very beneficial too.
Doing this HIIT workout:
Spend 30 seconds after a 10-minute warm-up doing as many reps of squats, kettlebell swings, push-ups, or single-arm rows as you can.
After resting for 30 seconds, switch to a different exercise for another 30 seconds. Repeat for a total of ten rounds.
Choose any of your favourite exercises, but make sure to alternate between exercises that target different muscle groups to allow certain muscles to rest while others are worked.
This is not only effective, it makes your exercise session go fast!
10. Rowing Machine
Don’t worry about finding a kayak or some rowing bodies and getting out on the real water – though if you can, it’s a great workout. Instead you can incorporate this fat-blasting cardio workout into your exercise routine with a rowing machine – which you’ll find at almost any gym.
The rowing machine offers various benefits, such as getting your heart rate way up, helping you burn more calories and fat. It also keeps your arms, core, shoulders, back, and leg muscles in your legs engaged.
Doing a 4-minute rowing circuit:
Start with 20 seconds of rowing with 10 seconds of rest in between. Observe how many metres you were able to travel in that time frame.
Remember to keep your grip on the handle of the rowing machine even when resting.
Repeat the exercise eight times as you try to beat your previous record after each try. When you’re done with the four-minute circuit, proceed with rowing a fast 500 metres and take note of the time you took in doing this.
Keep trying to match or beat your record on your next rowing session!
11. Strength Training/Weight Lifting
Lifting weights is a fantastic fat burner, though it might not feel like it given it’s a bit slower than other exercises.
When it comes to lifting weights, form is absolutely key, so before you get started, read our guide to weight lifting for beginners.
Walking poses various benefits and is actually effective in shedding belly fat. Walking seems so simple, but 45 to 60 minutes of brisk walking every day can do wonders for your metabolism.
Walking also ensures that you don’t overdo your workouts, which may lead to an over-production of a stress hormone, cortisol, that’s been shown to contribute to belly fat.
Brisk walking is also a good strategy to lose weight, especially the belly fat that hides your abdominal muscles. One hour of quick walking each day can result in one pound of fat reduction per week.
Often lumped with yoga, pilates is another effective fat burner that helps to strengthen and tone your body’s muscles.
There are different kinds of pilates and it’s a great option to incorporate into your routine, particularly if you’ve always been more of a treadmill and the occasional weights kind of person.
It’s great for mobility and strength and can be somewhat meditative.
We recommend giving a pilates reformer class a go. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll feel like you’ve worked your body!
REC Xpress, Your Partner in Fitness
Here at Rec Xpress, we’re super passionate about fitness and health. At our gyms, which are open 24/7, you can access amazing machines, great facilities and supportive team. We have 6 gyms in Melbourne’s South-East waiting for you to come on down.
So, come check us out today!