When many people think of losing weight, one of the first things that comes to mind is getting a totally toned and taut tummy. After all, who doesn’t want to be able to slip into a pair of jeans without having to deal with a muffin top? Plus, losing belly fat is a surefire way to improve your health: Research links a larger waist size to heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. That said, we hate to break it to you, but doing hundreds of crunches every day isn’t the best way to lose belly fat. In fact, exercises that promote spot reduction just don’t exist.
Here are the best exercises and workouts to lose belly fat, according to personal trainers.
This exercise works your core, as well as your chest, shoulders, lats, triceps and quads, explains Michaels. Since burpees involve explosive plyometric movement, they’ll get your heart pumping too.
How to do burpees: Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart and send your hips back as you lower your body toward the ground in a low squat. Then, place your hands right outside of your feet and hop your feet back, allowing your chest to touch the floor. Push your hands against the floor to lift your body up into a plank and then jump your feet just outside of your hands. With your weight in your heels, jump explosively into the air with your arms overhead.
2. Mountain Climbers
Like burpees, Michaels is a fan of this moving plank exercise because it works your core, in addition to a slew of other body muscles.
How to do mountain climbers: Get into a high-plank position with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Keep your core tight, drawing your belly button in toward your spine. Drive your right knee toward your chest and then bring it back to plank. Then, drive your left knee toward your chest and bring it back. Continue to alternate sides.
3. Medicine Ball Burpees
Phelps suggests adding a medicine ball to your burpee to increase the intensity of the exercise and boost your metabolism—all while building a sleek set of six-pack abs.
How to do medicine ball burpees: Standing with your feet shoulder-distance apart, hold a medicine ball with both hands. Extend the ball up overhead, then slam the ball down on the ground as hard as you can, hinging over and sitting your butt back as you slam. As you hinge over, bend your knees. Place your hands on the ground outside of your feet and jump back into a high-plank position. Keep your body in a straight line. Then, jump your feet back towards the outsides of your hands so that you are squatting. Pick up the ball and press it overhead, extending your body and standing tall.
The sprawl is basically a burpee on steroids—a full body exercise that works as many muscles as possible and burns calories while shaping and toning upper- and lower-body, especially your abs. “It takes the traditional burpee to the next level by having you touch your chest to the ground, then push-up to plank as you continue the move,” explains Braganza.
How to do a sprawl: Standing with your feet shoulder-distance apart, squat down and place your hands on the ground. Jump your feet back to a plank and lower your body to touch the ground. Push yourself up to a plank and then jump your feet outside of your hands into a squat. Stand back up. That’s one rep. “If you want to burn even more calories, add a jump between each sprawl,” Braganza adds.
5. Side-to-Side Medicine Ball Slams
“Medicine ball slams are a dynamic, explosive, and highly metabolic exercise that does not simply target one muscle group,” explains Chris DiVecchio, trainer and founder of Premier Body & Mind. On the surface, the obliques, hamstrings, quads, biceps, and shoulders are the primary movers of this exercise. “But as time goes on and fatigue sets in, nearly every other muscle in the body, in one way or another, may become involved as a secondary mover which makes this a total gut blaster,” he adds. Doing side-to-side ball slams versus overhead slams incorporates more oblique ab work.
How to do lateral medicine ball slams: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart with the medicine ball on one side. Pick up the ball and simply rotate your body as you slam the ball a few inches away from your pinky toe. Make sure to pivot your feet and bend the back knee as you come into a split squat position to catch the ball on one bounce. Alternate sides. Make sure you tighten your core as you bring the ball overhead and to the side.
6. Russian Twists
The Russian twist is a core exercise that improves oblique strength and definition, explains DiVecchio. The move, typically performed with a medicine ball or plate, involves rotating your torso from side to side while holding a sit-up position with your feet off the ground.
How to do Russian twists: Sit up tall on the floor with your knees bent and feet off the ground. Hold a medicine ball with your hands at chest height. Lean backward with a long, tall spine, holding your torso at a 45-degree angle and keeping your arms a few inches away from your chest. From here, turn your torso to the right, pause and squeeze your right oblique muscles, then turn your torso to the left and pause to squeeze your left oblique muscles. The movement should come from your ribs and not your arms.