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Losing belly fat is one of the most common fitness goals out there—who doesn’t want washboard abs, right?
The Best Workout To Lose Belly Fat Fast
As well as an aesthetic goal, losing belly fat is a great way to improve your overall health: research (opens in a new tab) has linked larger waist sizes to conditions such as of heart disease, diabetes, as well as some cancers.
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That said, doing hundreds of crunches every day won’t get you the abs of your dreams, and there are no specific exercises that can “target” belly fat. Instead, losing weight from the middle of your section is about a combination of good food, limiting the number of calories you eat and increasing the number of calories you burn.
So, instead of spending hours doing sit-ups and crunches at the gym, it’s better to focus on exercises that include cardio and strength work, as well as targeting your core. Not sure where to start? We have found 10 of the best exercises to lose belly fat here.
Let’s get this out of the way first, because it only gets better from here. Sure, you probably hate them, but burpees are a brilliant plyometric movement, targeting your core, chest, shoulders, lats, triceps and quadriceps. They also increase your heart rate and burn calories. (Not a fan of burpees? Here’s a full-body exercise you can do.)
Starting with your feet shoulder-width apart, drop into a squat position. From a deep squat, place your hands on the floor inside your feet and jump your feet back behind you, so that you are in a plank position, then do a push-up, touch your chest to the floor. Raise your hands back into a plank, then jump your feet back under your chest. Jump your feet outside your hands and as you stand up, jump your hands in the air. Aim for 10 reps.
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Another one that looks easy on paper, but delivers a serious burn, Russian twists target your obliques as well as your abdominal muscles. Because they require you to make rotational movements, they are very useful for many athletes, including tennis and baseball players.
Start sitting on the floor and press your sitting bones into the floor. Lift your legs so they float above the floor and lean back into a boat pose. Imagine making a V shape with your body and legs and keep your back straight. Raise your hands in front of you, interlacing your fingers. Using your abdominal muscles, rotate your body to the right, then back to the center, then back to the left side. That’s one rep. Aim for 20 reps, 10 on each side. To make the exercise more difficult, hold a dumbbell.
Another full body workout that mixes cardio with strength training, the kettlebell swing targets most of the body’s major muscle groups. If you don’t have a kettlebell, a milk carton filled with water (and the lid tightly closed!) or a dumbbell will work well.
Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, with the kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Bend the knees and hinge at the hips, bend forward to catch the kettlebell and pull it back between your legs to create momentum. As you swing the kettlebell forward, push your hips forward and think about squeezing your glutes to straighten your back. Don’t let the kettlebell go up to your head. That’s one rep. For beginners, try doing 45 seconds of kettlebell swings, then rest for 15 seconds and repeat three times. If you’re more advanced, progress to 90 seconds on, 15 seconds off.
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It won’t make you popular with your downstairs neighbors, and it’s probably one you’ll want to save for the gym workout, but a medicine ball slam is an exercise that combines cardio with strength. To do this exercise, you will need a medicine ball and a protective mat to prevent damage to the floor. The medicine ball slam works the shoulders, triceps, calves, back and core.
What it says on the tin. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent and raise the medicine ball above your head. Bending at the waist and engaging your core muscles, throw the ball to the floor (aim about a foot in front of you to avoid injury). If you can, take the ball up and repeat. If not, pick it up and return to the starting position. Aim for three sets of five to 10 repetitions.
Another exercise that burns calories fast – tuck jumps. You probably haven’t done it since PE classes at school, but tuck jumps are an explosive, plyometric movement that can help increase your muscle strength, as well as increase your heart rate.
Starting with your feet slightly shoulder-width apart, bend your knees as if you were squatting, then jump into the air, bringing your knees to your chest as high as possible. Keep your back straight, and think about landing as slowly as you can on the way down. Try to do as much as you can. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
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Another one you may not have practiced since school, but jumping jacks are actually a great cardio exercise you can do anywhere. As a plyometric workout, jumping jacks will increase your heart rate, burn calories and increase your stamina.
Start standing with your legs together and your arms at your sides. Bend your knees and jump in the air. As you jump, spread your feet shoulder-width apart and raise your arms above your head in a V shape. Return to the starting position. Aim for 10 to 20 reps and repeat 2-3 times.
Walking on an incline burns more fat than walking on the flat, because you are working harder. One study found that walking on an incline of 16-18% and a speed of 3mph burns 70% more fat than running on a flat surface. Need some inspiration? Find out what happened when we tried the viral TikTok treadmill workout 12-3-30.
To avoid injury when walking on an inclined treadmill, consider engaging your core as you walk, and avoid leaning forward. Try and keep your stride quick and short, rather than straining yourself with longer strides.
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This is another quick move that will burn calories. Jumping lunges primarily work the lower leg muscles, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors and calves. If you are uncomfortable with the impact of jumping lunges, just do normal bodyweight lunges, but move as fast as possible as you alternate legs. As you get stronger, work up to jumping lunges, even if you can only manage one or two on each side.
Starting with your feet shoulder-width apart, step your left leg forward, keeping your core engaged and your arms at your sides. Shift your weight forward as you lower your right knee to the floor. Jump, hurry, move the position of your legs in the air so that your right foot is forward and your left knee is pointing to the ground. To maintain your balance, push your hands into the air as you jump. Aim for 5 to 10 reps on each leg.
Like a bodyweight squat, a jump squat will target your glutes, hamstrings, quads and hips, but it will also raise your heart rate through the roof and help you burn more calories. If you are worried about the effect on the knees, you can, of course, opt for regular squats but work on the repetitions as quickly as possible to increase your heart rate.
With your feet shoulder-width apart, lower your hips back and forth, so you’re in a squatting position. Use your hands to propel yourself as you jump up from the squat. As soon as your feet hit the ground, immediately come back down. Your thighs should start burning quickly. Aim for 10 to 15 reps.
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Another great core exercise that gets your heart rate up and works your shoulders, hamstrings, and quads are mountain climbers. Consider going through it as soon as possible to really burn calories and get your abdominal muscles moving.
Start in a plank position and imagine keeping your core as tight as possible, with your navel pulled toward your spine. Bend your left knee towards your chest, as if you are trying to touch your left elbow. Return your leg to the starting position and bring your right knee to your chest. Repeat. Aim for three repetitions of 10 reps on each side.
Jane McGuire is the editor of Tom’s Guide’s Fitness, which means she covers all things fitness – from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has been testing and reviewing fitness products for the past four years, so she knows what to look for when looking for a great running watch or pair of shorts with lots of pockets.
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