7 Exercises to Burn Away Belly Fat

7 Exercises to Burn Away Belly Fat

Shifting belly fat.

If it was easy to do there wouldn’t be thousands of books, videos and dieting pills dedicated to getting that attractive, toned belly that makes the right impression on everyone who sees it..

Supplements can definitely help to accelerate the process, but truth is...

There ain't no magic pill.

The only surefire way to burn belly flab fast is to stick to a proven workout routine. But, with our busy lives it can feel almost impossible to keep it up - especially when most workout advice seems to assume you have unlimited hours to spare each day.

That’s why we’ve put together a daily workout routine that:

  • won’t eat up too much time
  • is ridiculously easy to learn
  • contains carefully selected exercises designed to maximise fat loss around your middle and tone your tum to perfection.

But, before starting any workout routine it’s equally as important to take some time to understand the Why as well as the How.

The key to belly-toning success

How do you get motivated to shift your belly flab?

There may be dozens of reasons why you want to ditch those pounds, but it’s important to boil it down to one. One reason that fills your mind completely and is the reason you spring out of bed early to get working out. This gives you the motivation to keep going when you don’t feel like it and turns simply ‘wanting to get a toned belly’ into an all-consuming desire with a plan of how to get there.

So, get listing. List as many reasons as you can to shift the belly fat and get a toned torso. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  • look better on the beach or at the pool
  • feel healthier
  • lose the fear of looking at yourself in the mirror
  • fit into clothes that are too tight
  • avoid diseases such as type-2 diabetes

Once you’ve got your list written down, read it again. Notice how each one makes you feel. Some will evoke a stronger reaction than others. Circle them. Read through the ones you’ve circled and narrow it down to two or three.

Then ask yourself “Which one of these is going to get me pumped up to do the daily workouts?”. Once you have your number one reason, write it on a sheet of paper in big letters and stick it up somewhere you’ll see it every day - the fridge usually works.

Also set down a specific goal. What is your target waist size or weight? By what date do you want to achieve it? Write your target on the same sheet.

Now you’ve got your motivation in place it’s time to get started looking at the science of belly-fat burning and the exercises that are going to make all the difference.

The science of burning belly fat

The human body is an amazing thing. When everything’s in balance it works in perfect harmony. But all too often things get out of balance.

The biggest factors that lead to an excess of visceral fat (the type of fat that causes illnesses such as diabetes and is generally unhealthy) are eating the wrong types of fats, eating too many foods that are high on the glycemic index (GI) and not enough exercise, or more to the point - not enough of the right type of exercise.

In terms of nutrition, don’t be tempted to cut out all types of fat. Some fats are good for you and are necessary in your diet. As a very basic dietary guide you need to:

When it comes to exercise, the evidence is quite clear. You need to mix abdominal strengthening workouts with some form of aerobic exercise for the best results.

The workout plan below will incorporate elements of both, so you can maximise fat loss and hit your goals faster.

Time to fire up the fat burners!

This workout routine is designed to bring about the best possible fat loss results. That’s why we’ve gone into so much detail in each section. Make sure to pay close attention to all the finer points, as these are what can make the difference.

The only equipment you’ll need for these exercises is a pair of dumbells.

1 | Burpees - The king of full body workouts

Silhouette graphic of the steps to complete a burpee exercise

Ok, we’re going to start by doing some burpees. You may be wondering why this is the first exercise in the belly fat burning routine. The truth is burpees are excellent all-over body exercises, and they are an excellent way to get your body primed for the rest of the workout. You’ll exercise your leg, arm and chest muscles, as well as giving your core and abs a good workout too.

They are often used by the military, athletes and sports teams as a warm up exercise, as well as being incorporated into High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) routines.

So, let’s take a look at how do them and what mistakes to avoid.

Burpee Method

  1. Start by standing straight looking ahead. Keep a straight back and good posture.
  2. Drop down into a squat position with your hands on the floor slightly in front of your feet.
  3. Kick out both feet behind you with arms pushed up, ending up in a raised plank position. If you’re up to it, you can do a quick press up at this point. At the very least, try and stay in this position, contracting your core, for a count of five.
  4. Thrust your legs back towards your hands.
  5. Jump in the air with hands above your head.
  6. Rinse and repeat - recommended reps = 5 -15 depending on fitness.
  7. Try to do at least 2 to 4 sets of burpees to warm yourself up nicely.

Common Mistakes

  • Poor posture and core contraction - In order to burn the maximum amount of belly fat, you need to make sure that you contract your core tightly during the plank phase. This will stimulate your abs. Keep your back as straight as possible during this stage and keep your shoulders directly above your wrists.
  • Skipping parts of the exercise - Try to stop yourself thinking “do I really need to do the jump at the end?” or only holding the plank for a millisecond with zero ab contraction, as you won’t get the desired results.

Mix It Up

To prevent boredom it’s a good idea to try some variations on the burpee theme. You could try the burpee long jump for example - instead of jumping straight up in the air at the end of the exercise, you leap forward from a standing position, then go straight into the next rep.

If you have a pull-up bar or you’re at the gym, you could try doing some pull ups at the end instead of a jump.

2 | Crunches - Get those abs working

Silhouette of a fit woman doing a crunch exercise

Ok, you knew there’d be some crunches in a belly fat burning workout somewhere didn’t you? To be honest, this is the first set of a few different types of crunches that get more intense. Crunches are vital for the both the fat-burning and toning of your abs and strengthening of your core.

This first lot of crunches is pretty straightforward, but you still need to make sure you’re doing them right.

Crunch Method

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent up in front of you and feet on the floor. Alternatively, make it slightly more intense by raising your feet and bending your knee at a 90° angle with your calf parallel to the floor.
  2. Put both hands behind each ear, or if you prefer cross your arms on your chest in an X position, fingertips gripping your shoulders.
  3. Breathe in and sit up as far as you can. Make it a slow and smooth motion.
  4. Pause for a moment at the top of the motion, then begin to exhale and lower your back to the ground. Again, a fluid and controlled motion is desirable.
  5. Repeat for between 15-30 reps, depending on your core strength.
  6. Aim for 2 to 3 sets. If you can only manage one at the moment, that’s fine, but aim to build it up over time.

Common Mistakes

  • Hand placement - some people may cradle the back of their head with their hands, rather than putting them behind their ears. In this position it’s all too easy to let your arms do the work rather than your stomach muscles, meaning you won’t get the desired effect.
  • Going too fast - slow down. Crunches are all about control. The contraction (sitting up) should be slow and smooth, and the retraction (lying back) should be even slower. The slower the movement, the more you will exercise the all-important abdominal muscles.

Mix It Up

To mix in a bit of cardio, don some boxing gloves and get a friend to hold a sparring pad near your knees. Punch the pad several times at the top of the movement. If you don’t have a pad and gloves, you can do rapid high fives instead.

3 | Dumbbell (or kettlebell) Swing

Silhouette graphic of the steps to complete a kettle bell swing

Ok, now things start to heat up - time to bring out the dumbbells! (Or even better a kettlebell if you have one).

Dumbbell Swing Method

  1. Grab a dumbbell and hold it upright between both hands, standing with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Raise your arms fully extended in front of your face.
  3. Keep your lower back straight, and with a slight bend in your knees, move your hips and butt back, swinging the dumbbell between your legs.
  4. When the weight is at the top of its swing behind you, contract your glutes, bring your hips forward and swing thrust the dumbbell up to just below the level of your neck.
  5. Hold the dumbbell at the top for a moment and contract your glutes, core and quads as tightly as possible, as you would when performing a plank.
  6. Let the dumbbell swing back between your legs, repeating the movement.
  7. Repeat between 5-10 times for each set.
  8. Do between 3-5 sets, with a short break between each.

Common Mistakes

  • Curving your back - the biggest mistake is arching your lower back at the start of the motion. Make sure it’s perfectly straight, otherwise you could end up doing some damage, especially if using a heavy weight.
  • Being a hero - in other words, trying to lift the biggest dumbbell you can find. There’s no need. All you need is a slight weight resistance to make the motion possible, the real benefit comes from the contraction of your glutes and core.

Mix It Up

Not much you can do other than vary the weight of the dumbbell. Try increasing the weight slightly after each set, but don’t go overboard.

4 | Twist Crunches

Silhouette of a fit woman doing a twist crunch

Time for some more crunches to get those abs and obliques toned.

Twist Crunch Method

  1. Start in the standard crunch position but put your left hand on the floor parallel to your body.
  2. Instead of lifting your entire upper body off the floor, start by lifting only your right side and bring your left knee as close as you can with your right shoulder.
  3. Exhale and lower yourself steadily.
  4. Repeat with the left side.
  5. Do between 15-30 pairs of reps, depending on ab strength.
  6. Attempt 2 to 3 sets.

Common Mistakes

  • Not keeping contact with the floor on the opposite side - you won’t give the obliques a good workout if you lift the opposite side by more than a couple of millimetres.  

Mix It Up

To increase the resistance and oblique contractions, you can add in a dumbell. Instead of holding your hands to the side of your head, grip a dumbbell in both hands while sitting up and pass it from side to side. You should feel a tightening in your sides as you do it.

5 | Stepping Plank

Silhouette of a fit man doing a step plank

This is the last of the cardio-type exercises and it can be gruelling. Start with a low number of repetitions and build it up with time, especially if you’re new to this kind of exercise. To get the right position for this exercise, think of a sprinter at the starting blocks, but instead of launching off into a race, keep your hands planted on the ground and step your legs back and forth.

Stepping Plan Method

  1. Start in a raised plank position, like a runner at the starting block.
  2. Keeping your upper body completely still, move one knee in towards your chest lifting your foot off the floor. You should feel a crunching sensation in your abdominals.
  3. Move the raised leg all the way back, then move the other one in.
  4. Repeat the motion on both legs at least 10 times. Aim to get to 15-30 repetitions.
  5. Aim for 3-5 sets, add more if possible as this is one of the best exercises for burning fat and toning your abs.

Common Mistakes

  • Allowing upper body to move - the real benefit of this exercise comes from the tightening of your abdominal muscles and core to resist upper body movement. If you let your upper torso, arms or head move too much, the benefit is lost.

6 | Side Crunch

Silhouette of a fit woman doing a side crunch

This exercise doesn’t need too much explanation as it is virtually the same as the twist crunch, but you also raise alternate legs at the same time. This increases the contraction on the abs and obliques.

Side Crunch Method

  1. Assume the same position as the twist crunch and perform the same upper body movements.
  2. As you raise one side of your body, bring the opposite knee up towards your chest, until your elbow touches your knee.
  3. In a controlled motion lower your leg and torso at the same time.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Aim for 15-30 pairs of reps and 2 to 3 sets.

Common Mistakes

  • Moving too fast - unlike the cardio exercises these crunches are better performed slowly. Controlled, slow movements will give you the best muscle contraction and therefore the best results.

7 | Overhead Dumbbell Lunge

Silhouette of a fit woman doing an overhead dumbbell lunge

We’re going to finish off with an exercise that will help tone all of your torso and belly muscles at the same time. It’s a variation on a standard lunge that will chisel your core and tone your belly and back-side too.

Overhead Dumbbell Lunge Method

  1. Hold a dumbbell upright in one hand.
  2. Stand up straight, then move one leg forward and bend your knee and push your other leg down until your knee is in contact with or near the floor behind you.
  3. As you bend down, push the barbell up above your head, keeping your arm fully extended - keep your arm extended above your head or the remainder of the reps.
  4. Pause for a moment, then reverse the movement until standing straight again.
  5. Repeat for 15-20 reps and 3-5 sets.

Common Mistakes

  • Bending your back - try to keep your back as straight as possible during the move and your arm raised directly overhead. This way you will get the maximum benefit from the workout.
  • Rushing the movement - make sure you pause when in the lowered position, and contract your core tightly.

Mix It Up

You can do a walking lunge if you prefer, so instead of reversing the movement after the pause you can bring your back leg forwards as you rise, until both feet are together, then start the lunge motion again from the new position.

Final Thoughts

So, that’s it. If you complete this short workout either daily or at least 3-4 times a week, you will quickly notice a difference. As long as you’re making other good lifestyle choices, your belly fat will start to melt away to be replaced with a toned tum.

It’s recommended that you combine this with another form of straight cardio exercise too, such as running, rowing or cycling, as the high calorie burn will add to the fat loss.

You’ve made the first step by reading this article, now’s the time to get to it. Good luck!