There aren’t many things that we want to lose, but belly fat is definitely one of them. When it comes to fitness and beach body marketing, there are no two words that strike as much awe as these.
Almost everyone has a little, almost everyone wants to get rid of it—and everyone has a difficult time doing it. Fortunately for us, there’s a lot that’s been written about this little pouch of fat, and there are several ways of managing it.
Down below we’ve collected some of the best exercises to get rid of belly fat faster than ever. Combined with the proper dietary plan and lifestyle routine, you’ll be shredded and turning heads at the beach before you know it.
When it comes to belly fat (and all fat), some of it is subcutaneous fat while other parts of it are considered visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is the one that’s found right below your skin and is visible. The other type of fat, visceral, is found deeper within the body and is usually wrapped around your organs, protecting them.
Even if you look thin, you might still have quite a bit of this visceral fat that’s hidden underneath. The thing with fat is that it’s not just one homogenous mass—there are different areas of it that end up producing different hormones. For example, the fat around our thighs has been shown to give us certain health benefits.
However, visceral fat can increase the risk of heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, and various cancers. Unfortunately, whether belly fat or visceral, there’s no real way to target different fat pockets, unlike with muscles that can be focused on.
When it comes to shedding weight, it’s going to come off your entire body in whatever way it decides to. Things like sit-ups and other ab-centric exercises are not going to do much for you when it comes to losing belly fat.
By now most people know that abdominal exercises are not the move if you’re trying to lose belly fat. This makes sense: exercises strengthen muscles, but only act on fat mass via energy expenditure. Since fat is found all over your body, there isn’t a way to tell your body to take fat from a specific area.
However, abs workouts can still help tone and build muscle mass, which can help lead to a fitter-looking physique. Having bulkier muscles underneath a layer of fat is a much better look than having no muscles and even just a little bit of fat (otherwise known as skinny fat).
This is where abdominal exercises can help. In a similar vein, strength training exercises help as well because they bulk you up while also burning fat for energy—a win-win situation. However, there are much more efficient ways of getting toned and losing belly fat.
The best known—and the one that we all love to hate—is cardio. Steady-state aerobic activity where you maintain a similar pace for a longer period of time is great at working up a sweat and burning calories. There are also many physiological things that go on under the hood, beyond simply burning fat for fuel, that help you get toned faster.
And similarly to cardio, we have high-intensity interval training (otherwise known as HIIT workouts). The modern zeitgeist when it comes to losing excess fat, HIIT can be done with most movements that utilize your cardiovascular system. The difference is that you alternate between periods of fast, high-intensity movements, and resting periods.
The thinking is that your body is able to recover enough during these resting periods to give it your all during the active periods—the trick is that your heart rate stays elevated even during the resting periods. It’s this elevated heart rate that’s extremely conducive to burning calories. Most of the exercises we look at below will utilize high-intensity movements in some capacity.
Before you get into the sweaty, fat-burning exercises down below, it’s a good idea to do a proper form first. Although warm-ups are always recommended, they’re particularly important for when you’re doing cardio or HIIT training. Intense and fast movements allow for a greater chance of injuries to occur, just because of their uncontrolled nature.
And if you’re looking to shed fat consistently over the long term, an injury is going to be one of the most damaging things to your progress—both physically and mentally. Doing some stretches and a few minutes of cardio will help to get blood pumping into your muscles and throughout your body, with the added benefit of burning some extra calories before you even get into the meat of the workout.
Additionally, many of these require little to no equipment, so they’re perfect for home workouts. Without further ado, here are 10 of some of the best exercises you can do to draw even more eyes on the beach.
Starting off the list, we’ve got a double whammy. Not only is it a good bodyweight exercise to get sweat pouring down and your heart thumping, but it’s also a great way to work your entire core. Mountain climbers effectively burn fat while also working the abdominals in order to make you more toned.
To begin, get into the high plank position and make sure that your shoulders are in line with your wrists. Activate your abdominal muscles, trying to bring your belly button into your spine. Initiate the movement by bringing your right knee to your chest, then bringing it back. Alternate sides.
Burpees are a plyometric exercise, meaning that you’ll be utilizing your quads and other lower body muscles to explosively jump into the air. Along with your legs, you’ll also need your chest, lats, triceps, and shoulders to swing up and keep you stabilized. Being a plyometric movement, burpees are sure to get your heart pumping.
With feet shoulder-width apart, lower down your body into a squat. Place your hands just to the sides of your feet, and then hop back, lowering down into a push-up. Reverse the movement and continue by explosively jumping into the air with arms overhead.
Another plyometric movement, box jumps are great for your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. If you’re looking to work on your vertical, then box jumps are a great way to do that, also building explosive power at the same time. One of the benefits of box jumps is that you can make them as easy or as difficult as you want by simply changing the height of the box.
To perform one, you’ll want to find a box around 50cm. Get into a quarter squat and bring your arms back, swinging them forward and exploding off of the ground, and landing on the box.
Pilates is a popular option for burning excess fat as well. It’s a low-impact exercise with the goal of strengthening muscles and developing flexibility. These workouts tend to be 45 minutes to an hour long and are led by an instructor. There are variations you can do with or without equipment.
Although Pilates usually try to target the core muscles, the movements also work other parts of your body. This usually comes down to training the hips, the back, and the inner and outer thighs.
The trick with Russian twists is to do them slowly and with perfect form. That will get your abdominals, and specifically your obliques incredibly engaged. Going slow will also ensure that you’re having to catch your breath and working up a sweat.
Sitting on the floor, place your feet flat on the ground and bend your knees. Grab either a medicine ball or a plate and keep it at chest height. Leaning back, keep your back straight and your torso bent at a 54-degree angle. Your arms should be kept just a few inches away from your chest, along with the weight.
Once you reach this position, rotate your torso and turn to the right as far as you’re able to while maintaining form. Pause in this position and squeeze the right obliques. Slowly reverse the movement and alternate to the left side.
This movement is over 200-years old now, requiring a kettlebell and some complex movements. But with its history and complexity, you know it’s going to get you results. Begin by holding onto a kettlebell with both of your hands and lying down in the fetal position.
Rolling on your back, take the kettlebell and press it up with your arms until elbows are locked out. Taking the arm and leg that is free, move them into a 45-degree angle-- palm facing down. Slide your heel closer to your butt so you get better stability. With the foot on the floor, push into it while pushing the kettlebell up.
Roll your body onto the forearm that’s free and straighten the elbow on the ground. Then, lift yourself up to a seated position, bringing your front leg to the back. Bringing your shins into parallel, get a good grip on the ground, and stand up.
The medicine ball slam is another great way to both burn calories and tone your midsection. If performed correctly, you’ll be engaging all of the muscles in between your hips and neck, making them work together. Not only will your explosive power develop, but if you do this exercise at a fast pace then you’ll also be working up a sweat—helping to carve out your midsection.
Go with a weight you’re comfortable with, but you don’t need to go heavy: a three-kilogram medicine ball should do the trick for most people. Simply stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the ball above your head. Slam the ball down against the ground and catch it as it bounces back up.
Using a dumbbell during a lunge is a great way to develop your core. The weight will be shifting from one side to the other, kicking your core and obliques into overdrive to maintain a proper posture. It’s also a great fat-burning workout, if performed at a good pace.
Start with a pair of dumbbells and press them up, having your palms face each other. Keep your back straight and try to make sure that your shoulders aren’t scrunched up. Begin by stepping forward and entering the lunge position, where you’ll pause for a moment. Bring the back leg, forward, and bring the feet together.
This is a full-body workout that’ll hit plenty of muscle groups and joints, including your quads, abs glutes, shoulders, and arms. The cherry on top is that it’s also a great way to develop your cardiovascular ability.
You’ll need either a couple of kettlebells or dumbbells, resting them on the back of your shoulders. Get down into a squat position, and then explosively drive down through your legs, pushing your arms straight up as you do so. Pause at the top of the position and reverse the movement.
And of course, running, and other forms of cardio workouts. This can be done either steady-state (at a single pace for a longer period) or using HIIT (where the intensity changes periodically to keep your heart rate elevated).
Along with running, there’s swimming, rowing, cycling, jump roping, and other activities.
Team sports can also be a good form of cardio since you’re always starting and stopping, elevating your heart rate periodically. Even something as simple as walking can help you start shedding pounds.
The key with cardio is to be consistent with it and to try out different things. You might prefer steady-state over HIIT, but mixing and matching different strategies will lead to more holistic and well-rounded development. Cardio sessions of any sort will be absolutely crucial to melting both belly fat and any other type of fat.
Implemented correctly in a well-rounded workout routine, the exercises above are guaranteed to put you on a path to greater fitness and wellness. But at the same time, they’re also far from what you need to achieve the body you want quickly and efficiently.
Losing weight—more than with anything else—comes down primarily to diet. Losing weight is often talked about and there are a million different ways that are marketed. However, in the end, almost every diet consists of measuring calories-in to calories-out (CICO).
The bigger the difference between the number of calories you take in and the calories you burn, the faster you’ll lose weight. This doesn’t mean that everyone should be jumping into extreme fasting since consistent and long-term weight loss should be taken in steps.
However, CICO provides a basic framework that can be adapted to any dietary requirement. Certain diets also cut out entire food groups, and while a lot of people find success in them, it’s not necessary. For example, it’s been found that a good fat-burning meal should consist of 30% proteins, 40% carbohydrates, and 30% fat.
While some diets argue for less fat, carbs, or proteins, a healthy combination of these is the way to go for most people. The key is to pick healthy sources of each, eating meals made from whole, fresh foods instead of processed junk. In fact, it’s increasingly being found that certain fat (monosaturated fatty acids, known as MUFAs) are actually conducive to losing weight. These healthy fats consist of things like olives, avocados, and nuts.
Another healthy eating strategy is eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of larger ones. This prevents you from overeating during your meals, which can lead to further binge eating. On the other hand, there’s also intermittent fasting which works for many people, restricting the amount of time during the day where you can eat.
Lastly, loading up on leafy greens and fibrous foods will also keep you feeling full for longer. Many of these foods also don’t contain too many calories, so you’ll be satiating your appetite while also losing weight comfortably.
Certain supplements can help you out—from fat-burning supplements to things like green tea.
One of the tricks is not to implement too many lifestyle changes at the same time. Instead of trying to change everything from day one, try switching from pop to water or green tea. Slowly ease yourself into the waters, and you’ll find that you can go for much longer and much more consistently.
While the right diet will get you most of the way there, things will get much easier if you stick to a proper lifestyle. Getting eight hours of sleep each night, eating healthy food regularly, and staying active are the three pillars to losing belly fat and also staying healthy.
As we looked at above, one of the first things people mention about belly fat is that you can’t target it when you’re working out.
However, sticking to a lifestyle that helps us lose this fat will also elevate our entire body’s wellness to the next level. Toning down will look and feel good, but it’s going to be the plan and the commitment that really pay back dividends in the long run.