Most everyone has a “problem area” when it comes to burning fat. And, it seems like belly fat is the hardest to tackle!
Due to surges and dips in hormones, especially in women, fat is often stored in the belly region.
And, while the old adage rings true, “abs are made in the kitchen,” in other words your diet/nutrition plays a huge role in fat loss, some exercises really work wonders when it comes to torching belly fat.
Below you’ll find 11 of the best ab exercises designed to work, strengthen, and tighten your core (as well as your arms, legs, and butt) to aid in your efforts to rid your belly of unwanted, and often stubborn, fat!
1- Side Plank With Rotations
Side plank rotations activate the muscles deep within your core, working your obliques, core, and shoulders.
As your entire core is strengthened, you may notice improvements in balance and endurance as well.
- Begin in a plank position on your forearms. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
- Rotate to a side plank position, your feet stacked, with your right shoulder directly over your elbow, your body in a straight line with your left hand towards the ceiling. Hold for another 10 seconds, engaging your core as you hold.
- Exhale as you twist your torso forward, slowly placing your left arm under your raised body.
- Keep your waist (core) engaged, switch sides, and repeat.
- Complete 3 sets, 10 repetitions each set.
2- Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are considered a bodyweight exercise, and they not only engage your abs, but they work your whole body.
Being a bodyweight exercise, this movement also burns a ton of calories, an added and needed bonus when it comes to burning belly fat.
- Begin in a plank position, keeping your body and hips raised to the same height.
- Bring your right knee up to your chest, then place it back in its original position.
- As you return your right leg to its original position, begin to bring your left knee up to your chest (just as you did with your right knee).
- Essentially, as you remain in this plank position, you will alternately bring your knees up to your chest in a near “running in place” type movement.
- Continue this movement, keeping your core engaged, alternating as quickly as possible.
- Refrain from moving your hips excessively.
- Try 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
3- Russian Twists
Russian twists work your entire core, from your obliques (love handles) to your entire midsection, making them a great movement to burn off the unwanted extra fat in your tummy area.
- Begin by sitting on the floor (preferably on a mat) with your knees bent. Your heels should be planted roughly 12 inches from your butt.
- Slightly lean back, making sure not to round your spine (gotta keep that back straight and spine safe), then lift your feet approximately 6 inches off the ground.
- Engage your core (it should feel like you’re pulling your belly button in towards your spine) and slowly twist to the left side. (For added benefit and greater difficulty, you can hold a dumbbell while doing this movement.)
- Then, inhale back to the center, and repeat the twisting motion, this time towards the right side.
- Keep in mind that this is not a huge movement, but a slight twist.
- Twisting to each side then back to center constitutes one rep.
- Try 3 sets of 8-16 repetitions.
4- Alternating Arm and Left Lift (a.k.a. Bird Dog)
Stretching and strengthening your core, while working both your arms and your glutes, this ab exercise is low intensity, but results in a great burn!
- Get down on the floor (preferably on a mat) on your hands and knees (on all fours).
- Begin by raising your right arm and left leg simultaneously so that they form a straight line.
- After this extension, return to the starting position, and then raise your left arm and right leg in the same manner.
- Continue in this alternating fashion for 10 reps. Try completing 3 sets of 10 reps.
5- Pike (with sliders or swiss ball)
This exercise is done with sliders, however, if you do not have this piece of equipment, paper plates or even two small towels (depending on the type of floor you have) will do.
This exercise works to tone your midsection and your upper body while also quickly getting your heart rate up (which means even more calories and belly fat burned).
- Start with each foot on a slider, paper plate, or other sliding object and lower your body to a push-up or plank type of position.
- Both of your feet should be on the sliders and your hands on the floor.
- Engage your lower abdominal muscles as you pull your feet towards your hands. As you do this, your hips should raise towards the ceiling. (your hands remaining stationary, planted on the floor)
- Next, return/slide your feet back to the starting position, then repeat.
- Try 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
6- Knee Tucks (with sliders)
Similar to the pike exercise with sliders, this movement can also be done with paper plates or other sliding objects if you do not have sliders.
Here, as you tuck your knees to your core, you’ll be working those ab muscles as well as your glutes and quads.
- As with the pike sliders in the previous movement, you’ll begin with each foot on a slider and lower your body into a push-up or plank type of position. Again, both of your feet should be on the sliders and your hands on the floor.
- For this exercise though, you’ll move your feet and knees forward as you engage your core, seemingly tucking your knees under your body. (yours hands remaining stationary, planted on the floor)
- Next, return your feet back to the starting position, then repeat.
- Be careful not to hunch your shoulders during this movement.
- Try 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
Sometimes referred to as flutter kicks, scissors are a low impact abdominal exercise that target multiple areas from your core to your glutes, quads, hip flexors, and obliques.
Your upper leg muscles are some of the largest muscles in your body, and as you engage these muscles along with your core when lifting your legs, you are truly attacking every common problem area in your midsection!
- Begin by lying flat on your back with your legs extended.
- Place your hands behind your head and slowly lift your head, neck, and shoulders slightly off the floor. (If you prefer not to raise your head or neck, you can simply place your arms by your sides, palms facing down.)
- Tighten your core muscles, then point your toes and lift both legs off the floor approximately 6-12 inches.
- Lift your right leg, raising it with your toes pointed towards the ceiling, then lower it back to the slightly raised position from step 3. Repeat this motion with your left leg, alternating one leg up and the other one down, moving back and forth between both legs in a scissor type motion.
- Continue this scissoring motion for 2 sets of 12-20 repetitions.
8- Roll Ups
Roll ups are another low impact exercise that pack a powerful punch to your gut…okay, not an actual gut punch, just a blow to your belly fat.
Roll ups work both your lower and upper abdominal muscles, just be sure to focus your movements through your breathing to receive all the belly fat burning benefits this exercise has to offer.
- Lie flat on the floor, on your back, legs extended (or with a slight bend in the knees), and arms outstretched over your head.
- Breathe in, and as you exhale, raise your arms forward, up over your head. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor, and use your tightened core muscles to raise your body to a seated-like position (legs still lying flat on the floor or slight bend in the knees).
- Then tighten those abdominal muscles once again to return your body to the original position (lying flat).
- Try 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
9- Jack Knife
Also known as a V-up, this exercise targets large abdominal muscles but focuses more specifically on both inner and outer obliques.
- Lying flat on your back, extend your legs, keeping your feet together.
- Extend your arms straight over your head, your body lying flat in a straight line.
- Take a deep breath, then as you exhale, tighten your core and raise your right arm and left leg, raising up your torso to eventually touch your right hand to your left foot.
- Inhale once again to then return to the starting position.
- Repeat raising your left arm to your right leg.
- Alternate this movement, performing 15 repetitions on each side, for 3 sets.
10- Straight Leg Raises
Leg raises not only strengthen your core, but they target your lower abdominal muscles, which can often be a hard area to effectively tone.
Fair warning, though they sound simple, after several rounds of these, you’ll definitely be feeling it!
- Begin by lying flat on your back, legs straight, with your hands placed under your lower back (or arms at your sides), palms facing down.
- Engage or tighten your core, then slowly raise your legs, bringing them up to a 90 degree angle. Keeping your core tightened, slowly lower your legs back to the floor.
- Try 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
- Some people report that keeping their hands under their back prevents them from having back pain during this exercise; however, if you still experience back pain, discontinue the exercise.
11- Heel Taps
Heel taps can work both your obliques and rectus abdominis muscles. In other words, the “love handle” area and the very front of your stomach.
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground.
- Place your hands, palms down, under your butt (or arm by your side, palms down on the ground) and lift your legs up, keeping your knees bent.
- Slowly raise your knees, keeping them bent, until your lower legs (calves) are approximately parallel with the ground.
- Keeping your left knee bent in this position, lower your right leg, heel first, until that heel taps the ground, then lift it back to the raised, bent knee position.
- Repeat, this time lowering your left heel to tap the ground.
- With each repetition, be sure to engage your core as you lift your leg (and heel) back to the bent knee position.
- Try doing 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
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