Stepping into the world of fitness for the first time can feel a bit overwhelming. There are so many different exercises to consider and equipment to buy for exercising at home.
In many cases, the motivation to burn belly fat starts with a desire to look more aesthetically pleasing. While that’s as good a reason as any to get serious about physical activity, it shouldn’t be the only one.
There are plenty of health benefits that come from shedding stomach fat, too — especially if you’re shedding visceral fat (a type of fat that’s stored deep in the abdomen and surrounding your organs).
If you really want to turn those “flabs” into “abs,” then you’ll have to include some physical activity, too. Fortunately, we’ve listed out some of the best exercises for burning belly fat and building muscle to keep you trimmed, toned, and tight.
How Does Burning Calories Help Burn Fat?
You’ve certainly heard of calories before. What you might not know is that calories are a unit of energy measurement. In other words, when you see that the #3 combo meal at your favorite guilty pleasure fast food restaurant is 1,100 calories, that means that by eating it, your body will receive 1,100 calories worth of energy.
Calories are essential to powering your body, but too much of them can be a bad thing. The human body isn’t very wasteful when it comes to calories, and excess calories are stored as body fat.
The tricky thing is that one pound of stored body fat contains about 3,500 calories. If you want to be rid of that single pound, you’ll need to burn at least 3,500 calories more than you consume.
But don’t get discouraged just yet! While that sounds insurmountable, there are a few tricks that can help you burn fat fast.
For example, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a stud in the fat-burning game. These exercises specifically elevate the heart rate, which helps burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.
Not only that, but HIIT workouts can also induce the “afterburn” effect. Scientifically known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), this phenomenon means that you’re burning calories at a higher rate even after the workout is completed.
As if that wasn’t enough good news, there’s even more you should know. Building muscle via resistance or weight training can further help you burn more calories.
You see, muscles are metabolically active tissues, so when you build muscle mass, you’ll be enhancing your resting metabolic rate. That means that your muscles will be burning more calories throughout the day, even when you’re not actively exercising. Talk about an easy workout!
It’s important to keep in mind that balance is the key to optimal results. The combination of cardiovascular exercises via HIIT and muscle building via strength training is a powerful one-two punch that can knock out that stubborn belly fat once and for all.
Which Cardio Exercises Burn the Most Calories?
Now that we’ve broken down how crucial cardio and HIIT are in the quest to lose belly fat, let’s get into the details. Here is a list of five cardio exercises that you should include in your routine to burn calories and shed that abdominal fat.
Burpees are the quintessential full-body HIIT exercise. They engage almost every muscle group in your body, from your core to your upper body, all while testing your cardiovascular endurance.
- Start in a standing position, feet shoulder-width apart.
- Drop into a squat position, placing your hands flat on the ground in front of you.
- Kick your feet back, landing in a plank position.
- Perform a push-up (this is an advanced move, so you can skip it when starting out).
- Jump your feet back towards your hands.
- Explode into a jump, reaching your arms overhead.
- Land softly and immediately go into the next repetition.
An HIIT staple, mountain climbers are fantastic for the core and also get the heart racing.
- Begin in a plank position, hands beneath shoulders and body forming a straight line.
- Drive your right knee towards your chest as far as you can.
- Return the right foot to the starting position.
- Now, drive your left knee toward your chest.
- Continue alternating legs, picking up the pace for added intensity.
This exercise offers a brilliant way to target the obliques while also incorporating some cardio.
- Sit on the floor, knees bent and feet flat.
- Lean back slightly, ensuring your back is straight and at a 45-degree angle to the ground.
- Hold a weight or dumbbell with both hands in front of you.
- Twist your upper body to the right, aiming to touch the weight to the ground beside you.
- Return to the center and then twist to the left.
- Continue this movement at a brisk pace.
This is an age-old aerobic exercise that’s still as effective as ever for cardiovascular health.
- Start in a standing position, arms at your sides.
- Jump your feet out wide while simultaneously raising your arms overhead.
- Jump again, returning your feet to the starting position and lowering your arms back to your sides.
- Repeat in a rhythmic motion, maintaining a steady pace.
Sit-ups are a core classic, targeting the entire abdominal region.
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your head or across your chest.
- Engage your core muscles, and lift your upper body off the ground, aiming to reach your chest towards your knees.
- Slowly lower yourself back down.
- Ensure your movements are controlled, avoiding any strain on the neck.
Which Strength Training Exercises Burn the Most Calories?
Remember that balance is the key, and you’ll need to include some strength training to build your muscles. Here are a few of the best ones that can help you build muscles quickly and burn more calories throughout the day.
Push-ups are a complete body workout. Beyond sculpting the chest and arms, they simultaneously engage the core, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Begin in a plank position with hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your body straight, engaging your core.
- Lower your body towards the ground, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
- Push through the palms of your hands to return to the starting position.
- Repeat, ensuring you maintain a straight line from head to heels.
Lunges are multifaceted exercises that target multiple leg muscles, including the quads and hamstrings, while refining balance and core stability.
- Start standing with feet together.
- Step forward with your right leg, lowering your body until both knees form a 90-degree angle.
- Press through your right heel, returning to the starting position.
- Alternate and perform the lunge with your left leg.
- Keep your upper body straight and core engaged throughout.
Squats, a strength training staple, recruit major muscle groups of the lower body. It’s generally best to get started using only your body weight to get the proper form and then slowly incorporate weights as you get more comfortable with the exercise.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Extend arms forward for balance or place hands behind the head.
- Begin by pushing your hips back, bending at the knees.
- Lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground, keeping knees over toes.
- Push through the heels to return to the starting position.
Dumbbell workouts offer versatility, helping you target specific muscle groups while the added weight enhances calorie burn.
- Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended by your sides.
- Curl the weights towards your shoulders, keeping elbows stationary.
- Slowly lower back down and repeat.
- Hold a dumbbell with both hands behind your head with your elbows bent at 90 degrees.
- Extend your arms, raising the dumbbell.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
- Sit or stand holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height.
- Push the weights overhead, extending the arms.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height.
Leg raises are fantastic for honing in on the lower abdominal region.
- Lie flat on your back, arms at your sides or under your glutes for support.
- Keeping your legs straight, raise them to a 90-degree angle.
- Slowly lower your legs without letting them touch the ground.
- Lift again and repeat, ensuring your back remains flat on the floor.
How Does Targeting the Core Promote Belly Fat Loss?
You may have noticed that we haven’t discussed ab workouts yet. Many people believe that the path to a chiseled six-pack is paved with hundreds of daily crunches. While targeting your core muscles can be beneficial in the form of HIIT or strength training exercises, there’s no way to “spot reduce” or choose where we lose fat.
Remember that fat is merely stored calories that are used for energy. That fat can come from anywhere, regardless of which muscles are currently being targeted during an exercise. Of course, engaging in core exercises should probably be a part of your workout routine, even if they’re not as effective as we would hope.
Crunches, planks, and the previously mentioned sit-ups don’t just target the outermost abdominal muscles but also the deeper muscles that play a crucial role in posture and stability. These muscles are mostly hidden by belly fat, so they don’t get toned as quickly as your biceps or quads.
However, when the belly fat starts to melt away, they’ll become increasingly more visible, and you may even have the lean midsection that you’ve been dreaming about.
What Other Factors Affect Calorie Burn and Weight Loss?
Achieving a lean and fit physique is a jigsaw puzzle, with each piece contributing to the final picture. Beyond the sweat and hard work in the gym, there are several underlying factors that can either propel or hinder your progress.
You may have heard that “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet” before — and it’s the stone-cold truth. Nutrition plays a crucial role in weight loss, so all of your hard work at the gym is basically for nothing without a balanced diet.
Focus on whole foods, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to ensure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals. You’ll not only be fueling your body more efficiently for more intense workouts, but you’ll be promoting faster muscle recovery and growth afterward.
Also, make sure to keep an eye on your total calories, as the more you consume, the more you’ll have to burn.
Sleep is something that many people take for granted, but it’s essential to overall health and weight loss. As we rest, our bodies enter into repair mode, mending muscle tissues, regulating hormones, and more. One of these hormones, cortisol, is directly linked to weight gain.
Elevated cortisol levels can happen due to sleep deprivation which triggers fat storage, especially in the abdomen. Ensuring between seven and nine hours of quality sleep each night is a crucial part of keeping these levels down and helps trim your waistline.
Cortisol isn’t just something that comes when you’re not getting enough sleep. It’s also the primary stress hormone in the body, and its release can be triggered by feelings of stress.
Chronic stress can naturally lead to elevated cortisol levels, which can wipe out all your hard work. The good thing is that working out releases endorphins that can help counteract cortisol and reduce their levels. Coupling regular exercise and stress management techniques like yoga and meditation are a cornerstone for preventing stress from derailing your fat loss journey.
Achieving a sculpted, flat belly might seem like a distant dream, but it’s closer than you think. The combination of HIIT workouts, strength training, and a few core exercises is an excellent start to shedding that belly fat.
Throw in a more balanced diet, better sleep, and lower stress levels, and you have everything you need for a chiseled, lean midsection. If you’re still feeling a little overwhelmed, then it’s perfectly fine to hire a personal trainer for more detailed guidelines.
While you embark on your quest, remember that Dr. Kellyann’s products can provide additional wellness support. For example, our Homestyle Bone Broth is chock full of amino acids like glycine and proline that can help with muscle and joint recovery after workouts.
If you’re unsure about whether you’re getting the right nutrients, then consider our Daily Divine Gummies to plug potential gaps. Above all, remember that consistency is key. With the right support and a consistent routine, you can achieve your goals in no time.