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Exercise to Cut Belly Fat

Published February 22, 2019 (Revised: May 19, 2019)
exercise-to-cut-belly-fat
<article> <section> <p>Many of us struggle to eliminate the stubborn fat that accumulates around our bellies, especially now as we leave the indulgences of the holiday season behind. But sometimes it can feel like no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to get rid of that lingering fat. While it’s important to love the skin that you’re in, you know that shedding those extra pounds around your tummy will give you a much needed boost in your confidence and your overall well-being.</p> <p>Yet the effects of belly fat run far deeper than concerns about our appearance. A 2018 article<sup>1</sup> in <i>The New York Times</i> by renowned health writer, Jane E. Brody, shared some of the more devastating impacts that belly fat-particularly <i>visceral fat</i> that accumulates around the abdominal organs-can have on our health. Brody highlights research showing that excess visceral fat has been linked to increased risks for cancer, dementia, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma, and more.</p> <p>The Million Women Study<sup>2</sup>, a British research project that followed one million women in the UK over a twenty-year period, found a strong correlation between waist circumference-a strong indicator of visceral belly fat-and the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). In fact, they found that for every two-inch increase in a woman’s waist size, the risk for CHD increased by a whopping 10 percent. Sounds bad, right?</p> <p>The hazards of belly fat may be serious, but there are things you can do to cut your belly fat, improve your health, and decrease your risk of these troubling health issues. That’s why we’re going to teach you two challenging yet highly effective exercises that will decimate your belly fat: the mountain climber and the sit-out. Keep reading to learn how these two simple moves can get you on the path to <i>eviscerating</i> that stubborn fat.</p> <p>As with all of our workout programs, one of the best features of this exercise is that it can be done in a short amount of time from the comfort of your own home. To date, our community members have lost 20, 30, even up to 70 pounds without ever setting foot in a gym. Those are some truly incredible feats.</p> <p>But before we get into the exercise, let’s answer one crucial question: What causes belly fat?</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Three Major Causes of Belly Fat</header> <p>The body has different types of fat, each with its own unique purpose and impact on our body. For instance, <i>subcutaneous fat</i><sup>3</sup> is the type that accumulates in places like our love handles, thighs, and arms-essentially it’s the fat we can pinch. This type of fat helps us regulate our temperature, protect our muscles, store energy, and more. Plus, it’s relatively harmless.</p> <p>On the other hand, accumulation of <i>visceral fat</i><sup>4</sup>, the type that builds up around our abdominal organs, can lead us into dangerous territory. Some visceral fat is a good thing since it protects our organs and helps our endocrine and immune systems function smoothly. It’s when we have too much visceral fat that our risk for type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other potentially fatal health concerns dramatically increases.</p> <p>There are the three important lifestyle factors to take into consideration when developing a plan to cut back on belly fat: diet, exercise, and stress. Let’s take a look at how each of these factors can cause us to gain and hold onto unhealthy fat.</p> <div class="sub-head">1. Diet.</div> <p>Diet is one of the key causes of belly fat, particularly visceral fat. Many of us who follow a Western diet are getting way too much of the stuff that causes health issues-refined carbohydrates, processed sugars, and saturated fats-and too little of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy unsaturated fats. Plus, as many as 40 percent<sup>5</sup> of people in the US are consuming too much alcohol, one of the most common culprits when it comes to belly fat. Fortunately, making healthy diet choices is a powerful corrective for anyone struggling with visceral belly fat.</p> <div class="sub-head">2. Inactivity or the wrong type of exercise.</div> <p>According to the CDC, 77 percent<sup>6</sup> of US citizens aren’t getting the recommended amount of exercise. The formula for body fat is fairly simple: if we’re consuming more calories than we are burning, then we’ll gain weight. This means that even if you’re eating a great diet, a lack of activity could be preventing you from reaching your body goals.</p> <p>It’s crucial to note that the opposite end of the spectrum can also have a similar effect. Exercising <i>too much</i> can actually put your body under stress, causing your body to release <i>cortisol</i>. As we’ll explain, too much cortisol leads to gaining and storing unhealthy body fat.</p> <div class="sub-head">3. Stress.</div> <p>Acute stress raises our cortisol levels, putting our body into <i>fight</i> or <i>flight</i> mode. Cortisol sends a message to the body to increase blood sugar, shut down unnecessary functions like reproduction and digestion, and get energy from quicker sources such as glucose. This is great when we’re faced with an immediate problem, for instance, like a sabre tooth tiger attack.</p> <p>However, when we have this reaction over a long period of time, high cortisol levels cause us to store belly fat and the spike in blood sugar makes us feel hungry frequently, creating cravings for high-calorie foods, especially sugars and carbohydrates. As you might guess, both of these responses can result in increased visceral fat. </p> <p>This stress response can be caused by many different things including lack of sleep, stress at work, and even mental health conditions like chronic anxiety. Learning to manage anxiety and setting aside time for proper rest can help combat the fat-building effects of stress.</p> <p>Now that we’ve learned about the causes of belly fat, let’s learn two incredible exercises to cut it quickly and easily.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Mountain Climbers</header> <p>One of the key things to remember about belly fat is that you can’t get rid of it through abdominal exercises alone. You can do sit-ups all day long, but they won’t get at the root cause of belly fat. In order to eviscerate that stubborn fat, you need to take an approach that includes both cardio and strength training.</p> <p>That’s why the mountain climber is a perfect choice if you’re trying to cut down on belly fat. Not only does it strengthen your core, leg, and arm muscles, but it’s also a great cardio exercise that will elevate your heart rate and boost your metabolism.</p> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9 w-md-75 my-5 mx-auto"> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Y92HVjyDYHI" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div> <p><b>Let’s learn how to perform the perfect mountain climber.</b></p> <ol> <li>Start in a pushup position with your hands directly under your shoulders, your toes planted in the ground, and your body in a straight plank from head to toe.</li> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-plank-up-0086.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-plank-up-0086.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-plank-up-0086.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-plank-up-LR-0086.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-plank-up-0086"> </picture> <li>Lift your left knee towards your chest and tap your toe on the ground.</li> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-mountain-climber-left-leg-0086.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-mountain-climber-left-leg-0086.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-mountain-climber-left-leg-0086.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-mountain-climber-left-leg-LR-0086.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-mountain-climber-left-leg-0086"> </picture> <li>Return your left leg to the starting position then repeat with the right knee.</li> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-mountain-climber-0086.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-mountain-climber-0086.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-mountain-climber-0086.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-mountain-climber-LR-0086.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-mountain-climber-0086"> </picture> <li>Continue alternating back and forth until you’ve reached 30 repetitions with each leg. Perform three sets of mountain climbers with a 30 to 60 second break in between sets.</li> </ol> <p>There are a few things to keep in mind while performing this movement. First, don’t point your butt up towards the ceiling or let it sag down towards the ground. To help keep yourself aligned, squeeze your glutes hard throughout the entire exercise.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <div class="col-12 col-md-4" > <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-plank-butt-down-bad-form-0086.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-plank-butt-down-bad-form-0086.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-plank-butt-down-bad-form-0086.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-plank-butt-down-bad-form-LR-0086.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-plank-butt-down-bad-form-0086"> </picture> </div> <div class="col-12 col-md-4"> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-plank-bad-form-0086.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-plank-bad-form-0086.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-plank-bad-form-0086.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-plank-bad-form-LR-0086.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-plank-bad-form-0086"> </picture> </div> </div> <p>Second, there are few options you have to make this exercise easier, especially if you’re having a hard time with the move at first. If wrist pain is your issue, get a pair of push-up bars or simply place your knuckles on the ground rather than the palms of your hands while you perform the exercise. </p> <p>You can also make the exercise easier by placing your hands on a chair instead of the ground and doing the same exact movement. Over time, you can choose shorter and shorter objects to rest your hands on until you can do mountain climbers directly on the floor.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-chair-mountain-climbers-0086.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-chair-mountain-climbers-0086.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-chair-mountain-climbers-0086.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-chair-mountain-climbers-LR-0086.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-chair-mountain-climbers-0086"> </picture> <p>When you feel comfortable doing three sets of thirty reps of mountain climbers, you can move on to the more challenging variation: the sit-out.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Sit-Outs</header> <p>The sit-out offers all of the same benefits of the mountain climber, helping you to build full body strength while getting in a fat-burning cardio workout. As a more advanced exercise, however, this move is going to push you even harder, giving you even better results.</p> <p><b>Here’s how to perform the sit-out with great form:</b></p> <ol> <li>Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, then plant your toes and lift your knees a few inches off the ground. Keep your knees lifted throughout the exercise.</li> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-on-fours-on-ground-0086.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-on-fours-on-ground-0086.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-on-fours-on-ground-0086.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-on-fours-on-ground-LR-0086.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-on-fours-on-ground-0086"> </picture> <li>Lift your right leg and left hand off the ground, rotate your body towards your left side until you’re facing backwards, then extend your right leg out fully.</li> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-sit-out-left-leg-stationary-0086.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-sit-out-left-leg-stationary-0086.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-sit-out-left-leg-stationary-0086.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-sit-out-left-leg-stationary-LR-0086.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-sit-out-left-leg-stationary-0086"> </picture> <li>Rotate back to return to the starting position, then repeat with the right knee and left hand.</li> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-sit-out-right-leg-stationary-0086.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-sit-out-right-leg-stationary-0086.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-sit-out-right-leg-stationary-0086.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-sit-out-right-leg-stationary-LR-0086.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-sit-out-right-leg-stationary-0086"> </picture> <li>Continue alternating until you’ve reached 30 repetitions. Perform three sets with a 30 to 60 second rest in between.</li> </ol> <p>There are two important things to remember with this movement. First, be sure to keep your body nice and tall all the way through your spine and head while you perform the exercise.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-straight-back-directive-0086.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-straight-back-directive-0086.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-straight-back-directive-0086.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-straight-back-directive-LR-0086.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-straight-back-directive-0086"> </picture> <p>Second, make sure that for the leg that is planted, your knee tracks directly over your toes. Your knees and toes should be going in the same direction rather than wobbling in or out.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Conclusion</header> <p>Whether you’re just getting started with the mountain climber or you’ve worked your way up to be a sit-out pro, both of these exercises are going to have a major impact on your waistline and your overall health. The cardio benefits of both of these exercises combined with the strength conditioning that these moves provide will set you on your way to a fit, happy, and healthy body.</p> <p>The most important thing to remember is to work at your own pace. Start slow, prioritizing good, solid form over speed. With time you can work up to performing the movement faster, but it’s crucial to start out by working at a level that is comfortable for you so you can continue to do this exercise regularly without getting worn out or injuring yourself. </p> <p>As we mentioned above, exercise is one of the key factors in cutting your belly fat and reducing your risk of dangerous health concerns like cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and more. We’ve found that the best way to make sure that you stick to an exercise plan is to do workouts that are sustainable-the type you can, and will, keep doing over time. Coming in at just about five minutes per day and requiring nothing more than a little space to stretch out, our three-set mountain climber or sit-out workout plan definitely fits the bill.</p> <p>Want to know the best part? You can get started with these incredible fat-blasting exercises today. Simply take five minutes out of your schedule to do three sets of either of these moves at the level that feels right for you. With a little time and persistence, we can guarantee that a great body and optimal health are well within reach!</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/well/live/belly-fat-health-visceral-fat-waist-cancer.html" rel="noreferrer">The Dangers of Belly Fat</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2047487313492631" rel="noreferrer">Coronary heart disease incidence in women</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/health/subcutaneous-fat#causes" rel="noreferrer">What Is Subcutaneous Fat?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/health/visceral-fat" rel="noreferrer">Visceral Fat</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14659891.2018.1497101?scroll=top&needAccess=true&" rel="noreferrer">Transitions to and from at-risk alcohol use in adults in the United States</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/06/28/cdc-report-only-23-americans-get-enough-exercise/741433002/" rel="noreferrer">Only 23% of U.S. adults are getting enough exercise</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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