Are you finding it difficult to fit into your little black number? Is belly fat giving you sleepless nights? If your answer is yes, you need to make some lifestyle changes to get the figure of your dreams. No doubt, belly fat looks aesthetically displeasing. It can assume serious proportions and affect long term health, if not curbed at the right time.
Dieting and exercise go hand in hand. If you thought that only dieting will burn your belly fat, you are wrong. If you really want to lose weight, you need to include an hour of exercise in your daily routine for targeting and reducing belly fat. Here, we have compiled a list of 16 exercises that can help you reduce belly fat faster than you thought it would take.
Best Exercises To Reduce Belly Fat
Nothing burns belly fat faster than crunches, which occupy the number one position in fat-burning exercises. Now, it’s time that you start performing this exercise.
How To Do
- Lie down flat on a mat with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Alternatively, you can also lift your legs off the floor at a 90-degree angle. (See picture).
- Lift your hands and place them behind your head, or keep them crossed on your chest.
- Inhale deeply, and as you lift your upper torso off the floor, exhale.
- Inhale again as you get back down, and exhale as you come up.
- Do this for 10 times as a beginner.
- Repeat another two to three sets.
Dumbbell crossover punch, shoulder press and side crunch, butterfly crunch.
While performing crunches, instead of entering the full sit-up position, just raise your back a few inches from the ground. This ensures you don’t hurt your back.
Also, don’t jerk your head forward while doing crunches. This will put pressure on your neck and result in pain. Just hold your hands above your head and perform the exercise.
Tip: As you lift your torso, do not sit up straight. Your back should make an angle of 30-40 degrees with the ground. Only then you will feel pressure on your abdominal muscles.
2. Twist Crunches
Once you get used to the regular crunches, modify the basic crunch to get an even more effective tummy exercise.
How To Do
- Lie down on the floor with your hands behind your head.
- Bend your knees as you would do in crunches, keeping your feet on the floor.
- You have to lift your upper torso while performing crunches. But, in twist crunches, you have to lift just your right shoulder towards the left, keeping the left side of your torso on the ground.
- Again alternately, lift your left shoulder towards the right, keeping the right side of your torso on the ground.
- Repeat 10 times.
3. Side Crunch
How To Do
This is same as the twist crunch exercise. The only difference is that you need to tilt your legs to the same side simultaneously with your shoulders. The side crunch focuses on the muscles on your sides.
Make sure you keep your movements steady and slow. The midsection, being a complex area, could hurt if you perform the twists in a hurried fashion.
4. Reverse Crunches
Now it’s time to do reverse crunches. This is another good exercise to reduce belly fat.
How To Do
This is similar to the twist crunch exercise. The only thing that you need to do is tilt your legs behind simultaneously with your shoulders. The side crunch focuses on the muscles on your sides.
Keep your back straight while performing the exercise, as arching it can result in pain, and in some cases, even injury.
5. Vertical Leg Crunch
How To Do
- Lie flat on the floor, or on the mat, with your legs extended upwards (towards the ceiling) and one knee crossed over the other.
- Now that you have positioned your body perfectly, do the same as you would have done in the case of crunches. That is, breathe in and lift your upper body from the floor towards the pelvis.
- Breathe out slowly. As you bring yourself down, breathe in again, and exhale as you go up.
- Do 12 to 15 reps and up to three sets.
Start by doing only a few repetitions of this exercise, as it can make you feel sore if you overdo it initially.
6. Bicycle Exercise
No, you don’t need a bicycle for this. Thinking how you can do this? We’ll tell you.
How To Do
- Lie on the floor and keep your hands either by your sides or behind your head as you do in crunches.
- Lift both your legs off the ground and bend them at the knees.
- Bring your right knee close to your chest, keeping your left leg away.
- Now take your right leg away and bring your left leg close to your chest.
- Keep doing this as if you are paddling a bicycle.
7. Lunge Twist
This is a workout for beginners who want to reduce belly fat quickly.
How To Do
- Stand with your legs hip width apart. Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Lift both your hands in front of you, aligning them with your shoulders and keeping them parallel to the ground.
- Lunge forward as shown in the picture. Take a big step forward with your right leg, and sit down as if on a chair so that your knees make a 90-degree angle with the floor. The left leg should be positioned backwards, supported by the toes.
- The spine should be kept straight. Don’t bend your spine forward.
- Twist your torso (just the torso, and not the legs) to the right and then to the left.
- Repeat 15 times.
8. Rolling Plank Exercise
The rolling plank trains the muscles around your abdomen, hip, and lower back.
How To Do
- Position yourself on the floor with your knees and elbows resting on the ground.
- Keep your neck aligned with your spine. Look forward.
- Lift the knees up and support your legs on the toes.
- Contract your knees and keep breathing normally.
- This is the plank pose. Stay in this posture for 30 seconds.
Now, start moving to and fro for the next 30 seconds. This is the rolling plank exercise.
- Lie down on the floor sideways.
- Support yourself on your right elbow and right leg. Your elbow should be perpendicular to the shoulder, and the left leg should be above the right leg, keeping them together.
- Keep your knees straight. Your hips should not be touching the ground.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds. Once you get comfortable, you may hold this for one to two minutes.
- Repeat on the other side too.
While you are in this position, you may also lift the leg on the top and bring it down again. This makes the exercise more effective – it works not only your abs, but also your thighs and hips.
Knee plank, rocking plank, reverse plank.
Plank is a strenuous exercise, and you might feel like holding your breath while performing it. But don’t do that, as you might suffer from nausea or dizziness.
9. The Stomach Vacuum
Stomach vacuum exercises are low-impact exercises that place greater emphasis on breathing instead of increasing your heart rate.
How To Do
a. This is similar to what we call the cat stretch pose. This is also known as the four-point, transverse-abdominal stomach vacuum. Follow the steps mentioned below to do this exercise for reducing belly fat:
- Go down to the ground on all fours, supporting your body on your hands and knees.
- Inhale deeply and loosen your abdomen.
- As you exhale, tighten the abdomen muscles.
- Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.
- Repeat the process.
b. Another type of stomach vacuum exercise is elevators. Here’s how to do it:
- Sit on a chair. Imagine your belly to be an elevator that’s moving up.
- Now inhale deeply using only your nose and think that it’s the first floor.
- Breathe out using your mouth and simultaneously push your belly towards your spine, imagining that you are going up to the fifth floor.
- Breathe out fast five more times, squeezing your abs every time you exhale.
- Repeat the same five more times.
c. You can try standing pelvic tilts. This is another form of stomach vacuum exercise.
- Stand with your legs hip width apart and bend your knees slightly.
- Inhale deeply through your nose and push your belly inwards towards your spine, and at the same time, roll your hips out in the front.
- Do five to six sets.
Seated stomach vacuum, functional stomach vacuum.
If you are suffering from any heart or lung ailment, it is best to avoid performing this exercise.
This exercise must be performed only on an empty stomach, as doing otherwise might lead to indigestion.
10. Captain’s Chair
All you need to do this exercise is a chair.
How To Do
- Sit on the chair with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed.
- Keep both hands beside you with your palms by the side of your hips, facing downward.
- Inhale deeply.
- As you exhale, bring both your legs upwards such that your knees are close to your chest. Hold for five seconds. Don’t bend forward and arch your back.
- Bring down your legs slowly and repeat.
Hanging knee raises, lying leg raise.
11. Bending Side To Side
This is yet another perfect exercise for reducing belly fat.
How To Do
- Stand erect with your feet together and keep your hands to the sides.
- Keeping your legs grounded, bend your body to the right as much as possible till you feel a strain on your left waist. As you do so, ensure your right hand is on the right hip, and the left hand is raised upwards. Stay in the position for 15 seconds.
- Return to the original position.
- Now bend to the left, and retain the position for another 15 seconds.
Slowly, you may increase the holding time to 30 seconds.
Cardio Exercises to Reduce Belly Fat
Cardio is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and shed unwanted flab from your body. Cardio exercises are immensely helpful in reducing belly fat. Doing cardio on a regular basis will offer you other health benefits such as reduction of stress, an increase in your lung capacity, better sleep, and a sense of overall well-being.
One of the very first cardio exercises to reduce belly fat is walking. Surprised? Do you think it’s too simple to be effective? Well, then you should know that walking is a great and effective way to burn away that ugly belly fat. In fact, it is an excellent fat burner for your entire body. If you follow a healthy diet along with walking at a steady pace for 30-45 minutes for at least four to five days every week, you will witness a gradual decrease in your weight.
This low-impact exercise increases your metabolism as well as your heart rate. A heightened metabolic rate will burn away calories at a faster pace, thus helping to eliminate the fat accumulated around your belly. In fact, walking decreases the risk of injuries and is considered to be a good workout for beginners.
You have to prevent your body from getting used to any fixed workout routine. Hence, you can switch occasionally. Try running for a change. It is an effective way to keep your heart rate up, burn calories, and lose belly fat.
If you don’t like running, try jogging instead. Research suggests that jogging is more effective in breaking down unwanted fat when compared to weightlifting. This is a form of aerobic exercise that is extremely useful for fighting obesity and staying fit.
This is another effective cardio exercise that helps you shed belly fat by burning calories. Ensure that your heart rate goes up while you are cycling.
With swimming, you get the benefits of cardio – from losing weight to toning your body – all at the same time! The strokes you choose should be up-tempo and strenuous in order to help you burn more calories. You can start by going for a swim once or twice every week.
Follow these effective and simple exercises to reduce belly fat. You can easily do most of these exercises at home without the help of any personal trainer. All you need is determination and a lot of stamina. Reducing tummy fat is no longer an elusive dream!
Other Ways To Reduce Belly / Abdominal Fat
1. Eat Right
Reducing abdominal fat is 80% about eating the right food. Have a healthy and balanced diet with adequate macro and micro nutrients. Most importantly, skip takeaways and fast foods. Eat food prepared at home. Don’t have time? Go for raw fruits or veggies, or steam cooked veggies instead.
2. Drink Water
Many get confused if they are thirsty, tired, or hungry, and end up nibbling sugary or fatty food. Always carry a water bottle, and make sure you keep sipping water throughout the day. One needs to drink six to eight glasses of water, though this depends on your weight and lifestyle. Calculate accordingly, and make sure you consume enough water.
3. Short Bursts
According to recent studies, instead of working out for hours or running a few miles, doing short bursts of active exercises is very helpful in reducing stubborn fat. For example, if you are walking on a treadmill, randomly increase the speed for a few seconds and get back to walking.
4. Say No To Sugar
Sugar is one thing you should greatly reduce, if not omit from your daily platter. There are many sources of hidden sugar, so it’s a good idea to reduce sugar. Use alternatives like honey, palm sugar, and licorice extract
5. Reduce Sodium Intake
Of course, you need to add salt to your food. Instead of sodium salt, you can consider using potassium, lemon, and sea salts. Also, adding a few herbs and spices like pepper helps in reducing the salt requirement.
6. Increase Intake Of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is important for the secretion of carnitine, a compound that helps the body convert fat into energy. Besides, it also helps block cortisol, a hormone that is secreted by the body under stress. A spike in the cortisol levels is the main reason for abdominal fat.
7. Include Fat Burning Foods
There are many natural ways to reduce fat. Garlic, onion, ginger, cayenne pepper, cabbage, tomato, and spices like cinnamon and mustard are some of the fat reducing foods. Consuming a few cloves of raw garlic and a one-inch piece of ginger every morning is good for fat metabolism.
Having a glass of warm water with lemon juice and honey in the morning is a popular option for weight loss. Similarly, there are many other ways to include fat burning foods in one’s diet.
8. Include Healthy Fats
When trying to get rid of bad cholesterol, the addition of good cholesterol can be helpful. Avocados, olives, coconut, and nuts are few sources of good cholesterol.
9. Do Not Skip Breakfast
Many think skipping breakfast helps with quick weight loss. On the contrary, skipping breakfast is a major blunder. It increases bloating and pushes your body into starvation mode, a key for abdominal fat gain.
Latest studies reveal that having smaller and frequent meals is the key to maintain a healthy metabolic rate, which is important for weight management. So, reduce the size of your meals and make up for it by snacking healthy. You could consider having dry fruits and nuts, raw veggies or fruits, and steamed veggies.
10. Get Proper Sleep
Wondering why we are talking about sleeping here? Adequate sleep is very important for weight management. Everyone needs six to eight hours of sleep. According to a recent study, too much of sleep or the lack of it can lead to weight gain.
Now that you know the different kinds of exercises and other methods to reduce belly fat, let’s check out what factors cause it in the first place.
Why Do You Get Belly Fat
Some amount of belly fat is normal – it helps to cushion the bones and organs and provide protection. Well, excess fat might become a cause of concern. Don’t worry. You can cut any type of fat by exercising and following a strict low carb diet. There are a number of reasons for belly fat in teens and adults.
Scientists have discovered that the number of fat cells you will develop depends entirely on your genes. If your parents or grandparents had excess belly fat, you too might have the same. Yes, it is true that genetics is a determinant of how the fat is distributed.
You may have an apple-shaped or a pear-shaped body structure. Accumulation of fat occurs differently for different people, it actually depends on the body structure. For those whose bodies are pear-shaped, the fat tends to accumulate in the lower part of the body, like the buttocks. But for those whose bodies are apple-shaped, your body tends to store fat around the middle section, thus resulting in fat accumulation around the belly. You must know that there are two types of belly fat – visceral, which accumulates around the abdominal organs, and subcutaneous, which occurs between the skin and abdominal wall.
b. Weak Metabolism
According to Mayo Clinic reports, the body’s metabolism slows down with age and this causes belly fat. Women are more prone to develop belly fat than men. Weak metabolism is yet another reason.
You must have noticed that some of your friends eat a lot of sugar-based foods, fried foods, or cold drinks. Yet, they manage to have a flat stomach, the reason being they have a very high metabolic rate. If your metabolism is not good, you may have a bloated stomach. Thyroid conditions, diabetes, and other medical conditions can be the reasons for slow metabolism.
c. Hormonal Changes
You might have heard the term ‘middle-age spread’. This means, as women progress towards their middle years, the ratio of body fat increases compared to the body weight. During menopause, when the levels of estrogen go down, and the amount of androgens or male hormones increase, then there is an increased risk of fat accumulation in the waist. Hormones actually regulate the fat concentration in the body, and your figure depends entirely on it!
d. Stress And Hypertension
Stress increases the levels of cortisol in the blood, and it leads to fat accumulating in the body.
Women suffering from diabetes, breast cancer, sleep apnea, colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease and hypertension, stroke, and metabolic syndrome have fat accumulation in the belly.
f. Sagging Muscles
If the muscles around your abdominal area are saggy, they may lead to a fat belly. All you need to do is tone your belly to get slimmer waistline.
g. Poor Posture
Slouching is the main reason for fat accumulation in the body. Learn to sit straight right from your childhood. Sitting with a curved back or spine may result in fat accumulation around your stomach area.
h. Sedentary Lifestyle
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the major causes of occurrence of belly fat. If you don’t indulge in any physical activity, and spend most of the time sitting, watching T.V., reading, etc., it is known as a sedentary lifestyle. Lack of regular exercise, or not exercising at all can lead to fat storage around the belly area. In other words, being a couch potato will make you fat.
If you eat too much, it can also lead to weight gain and belly fat. Coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, it can have major consequences.
Belly fat is, in fact, the colloquial term for abdominal fat. According to medical experts, belly fat can be potentially dangerous. Excess of it can lead to a number of health problems including heart diseases, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, a decrease in the level of HDL or good cholesterol, and can even lead to strokes or sleep apnea. You need to combat this problem before it gets too late.
Measuring Belly Fat
Earlier, belly fat was considered healthy; it was perceived as a reservoir of adipose tissues that could be utilized when a person needed extra energy. With time, the views have changed. Researchers state that excess belly fat triggers chronic cardiovascular diseases. So, it is important to measure belly fat and check how much you need to reduce. Here are some parameters to measure your waistline.
a. Body Mass Index
This is ratio of weight in kilograms to the square of height in meters. This parameter helps doctors judge whether the person will suffer from heart disease or strokes. Those having a BMI of 25-29.9 are considered overweight and those with a BMI of 30 are considered obese. However, this parameter is not always accurate in measuring belly fat. In fact, you can measure your belly fat with a measuring tape in front of the mirror, and set your own targets to reduce belly fat. Looking at the mirror and checking regularly will motivate you to lose the unhealthy fat lining your abdomen.
b. Waist To Hip Ratio
Keep a calculator handy. To calculate your waist-to-hip ratio accurately, measure the narrowest point of your waist and the broadest part of your hip. Divide the values you obtained from the measurement and you have your ratio. The waist-to-hip ratio is a more accurate parameter to measure BMI. Those with a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.8 are susceptible to cardiovascular disease and stroke.
c. Waist Circumference
As said before, measuring your waist with the tape is the easiest way to check belly fat. Measure your torso at the level of your navel. As per the official guidelines, measure your abdomen from just above the hip bone or the iliac crest, just where it intersects the line dropping down from the middle of the right armpit. Breathe normally while taking the measurement, and don’t hold the measuring tape too tight against the skin. Those with a waist size more than 33 inches are at risk of developing chronic heart disease.
Belly fat is something that makes you look really bad and it is also very unhealthy. A sedentary lifestyle and wrong food choices are responsible for belly fat. However, not to worry, you can always do some core strengthening exercises to get the desired washboard abs. Here are some expert tips to show you the way to shed those extra pounds from your belly.