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Best Exercises for Belly Fat
Your body starts to burn fat when you take in less energy, or food, than you use up in your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) — which includes energy used sitting, sleeping, metabolizing food, exercising, talking and more — versus how many calories you eat in a day.
The goal is to burn more calories than you take in and you do this by doing exercise that burns a lot of calories and/or builds fast-metabolizing muscle while eating a healthy, nutritious diet.
But with so many exercises out there, how do you know which ones burn the most calories and are also the best exercises for belly fat?
You can’t make your body burn just the belly fat because it’ll use stores from all over your body, but if you’re diligent with getting that daily calorie deficit with exercise, you’ll burn belly fat and also build up your abs so your belly will look firm as the flab disappears.
To help you get started, we’ve put together a quick primer on getting the calorie deficit so you know how to lose belly fat fast (and other fat too!) and ten of the best exercises for belly fat because they’ll burn fat and help you be rid of it for good and give you killer abs.
Keep reading to get started with calorie-burning cardio exercises and muscle building for your routine.
Article at a glance
Quick Best Exercises for Belly Fat Primer
First, get an approximate idea of how many calories extra you need to burn with exercise and muscle so you start burning fat:
- Figure out how much energy/food you need to feel healthy and energetic. It’s about 2000 calories for women and 2500 for men. Keep track for a few days to get an estimate.
- Get a rough estimate of how much energy you burn regularly just living your life as is, before exercise, with a BMR tool .
- Determine how many extra calories you need to burn so that calories taken in minus calories burned is lower than your BMR.
- Add in exercise to bump up your daily energy burning so you’re burning more than you eat. You can eat less too if you want but keep it healthy. Also know that as you build muscle, your BMR will increase too.
Aerobic exercise, where you get your heart pumping faster, like running, walking at a nice clipped pace, and playing sports, burns the most calories.
Exercise that focuses on building muscle, like strength training or doing crunches or deep knee bends, burns fewer calories while you exercise but helps increase metabolism, and thereby energy expenditure.
Muscle requires a lot of energy to develop and maintain.
In fact, muscle tissue makes up about 20% of TDEE!
So, the next step is add in the exercise needed to get your BMR higher than the calories you eat. If your BMR is 1900 and you eat 2000 calories a day, add in some exercise that burns an extra 200 calories.
Also, be sure to do a quick warm up before you workout.
A quick five minute walk or a few high knees will do it.
And whether you want to lose unwanted post-pregnancy baby fat, are worried about cellulite, ate too much on vacation or just want to feel great in your clothes, pat yourself on the back for taking this helpful post to heart and doing something about it! Because a good attitude and hope goes a long way to sticking to it.
What exercise burns the most belly fat? Cardio! And yes, walking counts as cardio if you speed it up a little.
As a calorie-burning rule of thumb, you can burn 1 calorie per one pound of body weight in 25 minutes of brisk walking. That’s 135 calories if you weigh 135 pounds.
Get a bump in your calorie burning by speeding it up even more.
But don’t get discouraged if you get tired. Just run as much as you can and walk the rest.
Commitment is key here so shoot for 20 minutes to start and use a calorie calculator (see walking) for an estimate of how much you’re burning.
To give you an idea, you’ll burn 263 calories if you weigh 135 and run for 25 minutes at 6 miles per hour (that’s a 10-minute mile so you’re going 2.5 miles).
Hit the hills for 25 minutes and burn about 220-plus calories. Bring a friend if it helps inspire you to get out there.
Hit the studio for an hour class and depending on your weight, you can burn anywhere form 200 to 600 calories! That’d be about 289 if you weigh 135 and do Ashtanga.
5. Elliptical Machine and Cycling
Want to take it to the gym?
Thirty minutes on the elliptical will give you a calorie burn of about 170 to 320 depending on how resistance and your weight, while 60 minutes of cycling burns about 450 to 750!
That number goes for biking outside as well.
6. Spin and Zumba
Enjoy the inspiration of classes? Spin for 45 minutes at mid-level intensity and burn about 400 calories if you weigh about 135.
Forty-five minutes of Zumba on the other hand will give you a burn of about 362.
Hit the pool for 45 minutes of slow breast stroke and burn about 340 calories if you weigh in at 135, while the front crawl gives you 280.
Now for a core-building exercise that firm the abs and torso to build muscle that increases metabolism and also gives you nice firm belly muscles that you can appreciate when the fat comes off.
Here’s how to do crunches:
- Lie on your back with knees bent to about 45 degrees, feet on the floor hip-width apart, and hands behind your head, elbows out.
- Pull your stomach in and press your lower back into the ground. Imagine a string on your belly button pulling you down into the floor.
- Lift up about 45 degrees, hold for two seconds and slowly come down. Lift as if your chest were going up to the ceiling and come down controlled so you use your abs.
- Do a set of as many as you can. Rest a bit and do another set or two. You can aim for about 12 per set. If that is too easy, do more.
9. Mountain Climber
This is another core and muscle-builder that also packs a cardio punch.
It’s basically you running in place in a push-up/plank position.
Here’s how to do the mountain climber:
- Get in a plank position, as if you were about to attempt a push-up. To do this, get on hands and knees, arms straight (but don’t lock elbows). Then walk your feet back until your body is straight as a plank with shoulders over hands.
- Start “climbing” the mountain that is actually the floor. Bend and crunch one knee up towards your chest, then straighten it back down and bring up the other knee.
- Speed it up as much as you can so it’s like you’re running in place in the plank position.
- Keep your stomach pulled in tight. You can imagine your belly button being pulled up to the ceiling by a string.
This is another core- and muscle builder that also works and builds your leg muscles.
Here’s how to do lunges:
- Stand tall, feet shoulder-width apart.
- Step forward with one foot and lunge down so your leg makes a 45 degree angle. Keep your knee behind your foot. Keep your stomach tight.
- Bring the other foot forward and stand tall.
- Repeat with the other leg and keep lunging forward.
You Got This With the Belly Fat Burning Exercises
Stubborn belly fat is difficult to get rid of without the proper exercise routine that helps you burn more calories than you take in while still giving keeping you at a healthy energy level for the day.
The best exercises for belly fat are those that burn calories and build muscle and also those that you will do!
Yes, it’s important to stay hopeful and stick to the routine.
Which of these exercises is calling your name? Do those!
Also, learn about tips to help with stretch marks if that’s an issue and then rest assured that once you lose that fat for good you can enjoy the lean abs underneath.
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