Fat Burning Exercise for Belly – Myth or Reality?

fat burning exercise

There is still a belief among beginners that abdominal training will help remove belly fat. However, practice shows that this is not at all the case. And yet another study published in the journal Strength and Conditioning Research confirms the practice. So is there a magic fat-burning exercise?

Is There Magic Behind Fat Burning Exercise for Belly

Research suggests that male fat on the sides, lower abdomen, and lower back is a hormone similar to female fat on the thighs and buttocks. This “problem areas” fat differs from any other in both the mechanism of deposition and the strategy for getting rid of it.

Ultimately, to remove the visceral fat that squeezes the belly forward, you need regular cardio and a transition to proper nutrition. And in order to get rid of the soft hormonal fat in the lower abdomen – the normalization of the levels of hormones insulin, leptin, and cortisol.

How to Remove Belly Fat?

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To remove belly fat, it is important to understand whether you are dealing with internal fat or subcutaneous fat. We will talk either about methods of combating obesity or with fat-burning workouts. Boosting abdominal muscles will be useful in combating fat in the lower abdomen, while visceral fat quickly burns from cardio.

Visceral fat is a special type of fat that accumulates inside the abdomen. Its main task is to protect internal organs from damage. Reducing the amount of visceral fat helps not only to remove centimeters from the waist but also affects the hormonal background of the body, normalizing appetite.

For the hormonal belly, we’ll look at the effects of insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin, and testosterone on gaining excess weight and lower belly fat. The role is also played by the fact that the hormonal belly in men goes away faster with a diet, while women’s fat in the lower abdomen burns faster with cardio.

Spot Reduction of Fat Is Not Possible

As we already stated, you cannot lose fat in certain areas through a fat-burning exercise. Any coach will tell you about it. If you burn more energy than you consume from food, your body uses up its stores of fat wherever it can, and not evenly. Unfortunately, different areas with different sensitivity react to the body’s signals to mobilize fat from the depot. But sooner or later you will achieve a reduction in the whole body.

Experimental Evidence That Exercise Does Not Remove Belly Fat

Researchers conducted countless experiments in which subjects did squats and crunches and measured the amount of subcutaneous fat that disappeared from the thighs or abdomen – to no avail. American sports scientists repeated similar studies once again, forcing 14 inactive people in their twenties with stable body weight to train their abdominal muscles for six weeks in a row. The subjects were required to do the mid-torso workout five times a week. The workout consisted of seven exercises, two sets of ten reps each. A control group of ten people in their twenties did nothing for those six weeks.

Fat Burning Exercise Research Results

It can be seen from the table below that abdominal training did not result in any statistically significant changes in body weight, total fat mass, or android fat mass (yep, there is such a term). Android fat is fat in the trunk: around the belly, chest, shoulders, neck, and back. However, by the end of the sixth week, the subjects were able to do more repetitions with greater intensity, that is, they became stronger and more efficient, which is quite predictable.


Conclusion of Scientists

Abdominal exercises were effective in increasing abdominal strength, but were not effective in reducing various indicators of abdominal fat,” the researchers conclude.

Some people try to reduce their waist by doing pure abdominal exercises, perhaps because of claims made in advertisements for special equipment and machines. The information from this study may help people understand that abdominal exercise alone is not enough to reduce waist or abdominal fat. It is probably necessary to include aerobic exercise along with a decrease in energy intake in order to have more favorable changes in body fat percentage.

For more info, see – How to Lose Weight — In-Depth Guide!

Fat Loss Strategy

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There are several types of fat, differing in their structure and the required mechanism for burning. Even the subcutaneous fat is not the same – the fat in the lower abdomen becomes cold with cardio since the hormone adrenaline blocks the blood circulation. To remove this fat, you need to train at maximum acceleration.

The difference is that saturated fatty acids are stored in the abdomen, making visceral fat hard to the touch, while subcutaneous fat is usually soft. In turn, fat in the lower abdomen is formed with a chronic excess of carbohydrates in the diet against the background of a sedentary lifestyle.

Retroperitoneal fat

Normal subcutaneous fat

  • Avoiding fast carbs and controlling saturated fat
  • Cardio 3-4 times a week + exercises for the abdominal muscles

Fat in the lower abdomen and thighs

  • A low-carb diet with lots of fiber
  • Cardio (for instance, according to the Tabata method) 3-4 times a week + exercises for the abdominal muscles

Fat Burning Exercise Research Results for Hormonal Belly

One of the reasons for the appearance of a hormonal belly is high cortisol levels. Under normal conditions, the body needs this hormone to react quickly in stressful situations, but chronically high cortisol negatively affects metabolic function. In particular, the deposition of fat in the lower abdomen is accelerated.

Since cortisol is a stress hormone, high levels are associated with nervousness and sleep disturbances. Fast carbohydrates are the typical “cure” in these conditions – but they are the ones that lead to a set of belly fat. If against the background of high cortisol, a person tries to go on a strict diet, this further disrupts metabolism.

In addition, in men, low testosterone provokes fat gain in the lower abdomen and a decrease in total muscle mass. The less muscle in the body, the lower the metabolic needs – even the usual diet, in this case, will cause weight gain. Plus, estrogen levels can rise, triggering female-type obesity.

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  1. The Effect of Abdominal Exercise on Abdominal Fat. Vispute, Sachin S; Smith, John D; LeCheminant, James D; Hurley, Kimberly SJ Strength Cond Res. 2011 Sep;25(9):2559-64.

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