The short answer is: no. The only way to spot reduce fat is to go in and cut it out. Targeted exercises is a myth when it comes to burning fat. It can, however, help tone certain areas. The truth is that there is some part of genetics. Genetics determine where your body deposits fat. It also determines how closely your connective tissue adheres to your muscles; your fascia may not have the striations that lead to a 6 pack. That’s why some people have an 8 pack or others have just slight definition.
Here are effective ways to burn fat, which in turn burns belly fat:
- Use full body workouts and exercises that burn more calories. The more body parts you use, the harder you’re working, the more energy you consume.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Making sure to cut back on refined sugars, eating leafy greens, and having a high protein intake is essential to cutting fat and promoting muscle growth.
- Have your activity and food intake lead to a caloric deficit. The only way to lose weight, if that’s your goal, is to burn more calories than you consume.
- Exercise variety. Be sure that you’re not just doing one type of exercise, like aerobics or the same strength routine. Your body will get used to it and become so efficient that you won’t be burning as many calories. When you challenge your body in new ways, it has to work harder.
- High-Intensity Interval Training. HIIT has been shown to boost your metabolism for hours after your workout. It is challenging for both beginners and highly trained individuals, and it’s almost never easy.
As frustrating as it is to hear, the only way to cut down on belly fat is to cut down your overall fat. You have to eat right, prioritize recovery, and work hard.
Anna J Applegate, LAT, ATC
Anna is a licensed Athletic Trainer in MA. She’s worked with adolescents, veterans, and D1 & high-level athletes in both Sports Medicine and Sports Performance. She’s focused on a holistic approach to injury prevention and performance enhancement. In addition to writing for Bear Grips, Anna is working to create resources that make technology and analytics accessible for coaches and clinicians.
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- Vispute S, Smith J, LeCheminant J, Hurley K. The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2011;25(9):2559-2564.