Searching for the best ab exercises to lose belly fat and get a flat stomach?
A lot of people experience weight gain so what’s the best way to rid yourself of excess fat and get visible abs?
While “spot reduction” (targeting a specific body part for fat reduction) isn’t a viable approach to losing belly fat, abdominal exercises along with cardio and resistance training can help you get the toned tummy you’re after.
But remember, there is no quick way to a chiseled core.
When it comes to losing weight around your midsection, it’s more important to focus more on exercises that work your whole body than just your abs, like crunches and situps.
These won’t help you lose extra pounds that’s covering your abdominal area but building muscle will!
The best ab workout is the one that not only engages all of your core muscles but makes your heart rate rise, like jumping jacks or running!
In this article, we’ll focus more on calorie burn workouts that help you get rid of the extra fat in your torso.
But before we do, let’s take a quick look at belly fat and see what causes it.
Belly Fat Basics
Before attempting to reduce your excess belly fat, the first thing you need to understand is what the types are.
There are two types of belly fat, visceral and subcutaneous (1). Subcutaneous fat is the soft fat you feel when you poke your abdomen.
Visceral fat on the other hand is the fat that surrounds your organs and can increase inflammation and insulin sensitivity.
It’s this type that is the most concerning!
Having excess weight is so much more than a beer belly or a larger waist size. There are many very serious health issues of having too much belly fat (2).
There’s a greater risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin sensitivity.
Insulin sensitivity refers to how the cells in your body respond to insulin. An increase in the stress hormone: cortisol or menopause can also cause excess fat in the low body.
The best way to target abdominal obesity is through lifestyle changes.
Tips to Lose Belly Fat
You’ve probably heard the adage “abs are made in the kitchen”. It’s true! The first step to weight loss is a healthy diet.
Weight loss comes from a calorie deficit which means you’re consuming less food than your body requires. This makes your body burn off the fat stores for extra energy.
Calculate the amount of calories you need per day and subtract a reasonable amount for fat loss. This can range from 300 – 500.
Avoid fad and very low-calorie (under 1000 calories per day) diets. These are counterproductive and slow your metabolism.
While limiting the amount of calories you eat per day goes a long way, it’s also about the quality of the food you’re eating.
To get a flat tummy, avoid snacking and fast food. Instead, consume healthy fats, carbs, fruits, and vegetables.
To put this into perspective, 1/2 cup (45 grams, 31 calories) of broccoli is fewer calories than 1/2 cup of pasta at 75 calories.
Focus on whole grains, olive oil, and avocado. Apple cider vinegar is said to control your appetite and aid in fat burn.
Try to get all of your necessary nutrients through food and not supplements.
Measure your body composition, waist circumference in centimeters, or BMI. This will give you a starting point to compare your progress.
This will help set a goal for how much weight to lose.
Remember, there is no quick fix for a smaller waist size, it’s about living a healthy lifestyle.
This includes also getting a good night’s sleep, at least 8 hours of sleep, and drinking plenty of water.
Prior to starting any workout or exercise plan for the first time, seek medical advice and approval.
What Exercises Burn the Most Belly Fat?
The best way to burn belly fat and body fat is through cardio exercises and strength training.
Cardio will help you with fat loss and resistance training will help you build lean muscle mass.
That’s not to say doing abdominal exercises to target your six-pack abs is pointless.
In fact, it’s important in helping you strengthen and sculpt those ab muscles. But when it comes to weight loss, you need to do exercises that target the large muscle groups in your entire body.
In this article, I’m going to share with you the most effective exercises to burn stomach fat, love handles, and getting those flat abs you’ve always wanted!
Get ready to burn away that pesky belly fat covering your abdominal muscles with these 20 best ab workouts.
20 Best Ab Exercises to Lose Belly Fat and Get a Flat Stomach
These moves are not just ab workouts. This home workout will work every inch of your body and help shrink your waistline without a personal trainer.
Take a deep breath. Let’s get started!
HIIT ab exercises are a great place to start when trying to shed those excess pounds. It’s a cardio workout that raises your metabolic rate.
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. Basically, you work really hard and then take a rest before working really hard again.
Sounds a little bit intimidating, right? That’s ok!
First, pick your interval ratio. For example, if you choose a 1:2 ratio, you’re exercise periods are twice as long as your rest periods.
For example, you work hard for 30 seconds, with 60 seconds of rest. Depending on the exercise, the ratio will change.
Pick a core exercise and ratio that best fits your level of fitness. A 20-minute workout is a good place to start.
Squats are a compound movement that targets your quads, core muscles, calves, and glutes.
Start standing with your feet a little wider than your hips, toes pointing slightly outward.
Keep your arms out and parallel with the ground. With your weight in your heels, lower down with your knees tracking in line with your feet.
Exhale, engage your quads, and rise back to the starting position. Your abdominals are engaged the entire time.
This can be either a body weight exercise or for more of a challenge, add a barbell on your shoulders or try deadlifts.
Planks are a full-body exercise that tests your strength and endurance. They are my favorite ab exercise!
Start on the mat, face-down. Place your hands under your shoulders and tuck your toes. On an exhale, press the ground away into a pushup position. Hold.
You can also start in tabletop position and step your feet back into a plank.
There will be a straight line from the tip of your head to your heels. Keep your abdominals and lower back active.
Hold for a minute to start. Gradually add time with practice.
Burpees are another full-body exercise.
They can be broken down into 3 parts to be performed one after the other. It’s a squat, a plank, and a jump.
Complete your squat. Plant your hands on the ground directly under your shoulders. Jump back, landing on the balls of your feet in a plank.
Pause. Hop your feet forward to the outside of your hands. Reach your arms up and jump.
These make a great HIIT workout! Pick your ratio and complete for 20 minutes.
5. Kettlebell Swing
Kettlebell swings work your hips, glutes, abs, and arms.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width distance. Bend at the waist, grabbing the kettlebell handle with both hands, palms facing toward your body.
Brace your core. Lift the kettlebell and allow it to swing between your legs, knees stay slightly bent.
Drive your hips forward to propel the kettlebell in the air, no higher than your shoulders. Allow it to swing back down, between your legs. This is 1 rep. Complete for 25 – 30.
Lunges are a great simple exercise to work your lower body and endurance.
Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart. Step forward with your right leg, heel hitting the floor first.
Lower until your right thigh is at a 90-degree angle, parallel with the ground. Your right shin is vertical.
Option to tap the back knee to the ground. Press into your right heel as you return to the starting position. Repeat with the left foot.
Complete for 30 reps on each side.
7. Medicine Ball Slams
Medicine ball slams are a fun exercise that works your shoulders, triceps, back, and core.
Start with your feet hip-width distance on solid ground. Hold the ball at waist level. Rise up on your toes as you bring the ball over your head.
Contract your abdominals as you forcefully slam the ball into the ground.
Complete 3 slams for 5 reps.
8. Hip Hinge
Hip Hinges are a deceptively simple exercise. They work your hamstrings and glutes. It’s an effective exercise for better posture and core strength.
Stand with your feet at shoulder-width distance, core engaged. Hold a barbell behind your back along your spine.
It should touch at the back of your head, down your thoracic spine, and sacrum.
Stand facing away from a wall. Start to hinge at the hips until your glutes touch the wall. Keep your posture with the barbell. Reverse until your standing.
Repeat for 10 – 15 reps.
9. Dumbbell Renegade Row
Dumbbell renegade rows are a great way to add weight training to your workout routine for a strong core.
They work your trapezius muscles, lats, and your core muscles, specifically, rectus abdominis and obliques.
Start in a pushup position with a dumbbell in each fist. Keep your core engaged as you lift your right hand in a row, approximately a ninety-degree angle. Your right elbow points towards the ceiling.
Press through your left arm for stability. Lower the right hand back to the mat. Repeat with the left arm.
Repeat for 20 reps on each side.
10. Side Plank
Side planks are another simple exercise that targets both your internal and external obliques.
Start on your side with your right forearm parallel with the front of your mat, your left hand is on your hip. Stack your feet.
On an exhale, press through your forearm and lift your hips. This creates a straight line from the tip of your head to your feet.
For a more challenging variation, start in a plank position. Drop your heels to the right, pressing through your right arm.
Hold for 30 seconds to start. Add length with practice.
11. Russian Twist
Russian twists also target the obliques, rectus abdominis, and hip flexors.
Start sitting on your mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lean back with a straight spine at a 45-degree angle, heels up, toes grazing the ground.
Clasp your hands at chest height, arms straightened. Rotate your torso to the right, hands follow and point towards the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side. This is one rep.
Repeat 30 repetitions on each side.
Take it up a notch by adding a heavy weight medicine ball or swiss ball!
12. Brisk Walk
A brisk walk is an aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate while helping maintain a healthy weight.
The good news is that you don’t need to go on a long run or a full out sprint to get the benefits!
This cardiovascular exercise is great for beginners and anyone who wants an easy way to lose extra weight. It’s such a versatile type of exercise that can be performed on a treadmill or outside.
If you’re looking for a more vigorous exercise, try a jog!
13. Resistance Band Glute Bridge
Glute bridges work hamstrings, lower back, abdominals, and glutes.
Lie on your back with a resistance band around your thighs. Keep your arms on the ground. Squeeze your lower body and glutes as your hips rise and create a straight line with your shoulders.
Hold for 5 seconds. With control, lower your hips back to the ground. Repeat for 30 reps.
14. Bicycle Crunch
Bicycle crunches are a variation of situps that work your rectus abdominis, hips, and obliques.
Start on your back in the crunch position. Hands are behind your head, fingertips touching but not interlaced.
As you crunch, twist your right elbow to your left knee. Inhale back to the starting position. Crunch your left elbow to your opposite knee. Reset.
Complete 30 reps on each side.
15. Leg Lifts
Leg lifts are a simple exercise that targets the lower abs.
Lie on your yoga mat with your hands either by your sides or under your lower back for stability.
On an exhale, bring your heels 6 to 8 inches off of the mat or a 30-degree angle. Hold. Lower down, grazing the ground with your heels on an inhale.
Repeat for 30 leg raises.
16. Medicine Ball Wood Choppers
Wood choppers are a great exercise to target your core engagement and obliques.
Stand with your feet hip-width distance gripping a heavy weight medicine ball in both hands. Keep a slight bend in your knees as you twist, bringing the ball over your right shoulder.
Swing the ball across your body, bringing your hands to the outside of your left knee, hinging at the hips, and bending your knees. Return the ball over your right shoulder.
Repeat 30 times. Then perform on the opposite side.
17. Overhead Medicine Ball Slam
Overhead medicine ball slam is another fun exercise that works your entire body.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the medicine ball in both hands at your navel.
Engage your core and roll your shoulder blades back. Squat, inhale, rising onto the balls of your feet.
Bring the medicine ball overhead. Using your abdominals and arms to slam the ball into the ground.
Squat to pick up the ball and move on to your next slam.
Repeat for 30 slams.
18. Reverse Crunch
Reverse crunches target your entire core, specifically the lower abs and transverse abdominis.
Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Keep your upper body on the mat as your lower body rises by drawing your legs into your chest.
Repeat for 30 reps.
19. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are a high-intensity full-body cardio workout.
Start in a pushup position. Pull your right knee into your chest.
Quickly switch legs by straightening your right as you pull your left into your chest. Alternate legs while increasing your heart rate.
Try this workout on your forearms, if there is pressure or discomfort in your wrists.
Complete 5 rounds, 1 minute each.
20. Bench Press
The bench press is a classic simple exercise targeting your pectorals, shoulders, arms, and upper back.
Lie on a flat bench gripping a barbell with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Lower the bar to your chest with elbows bending out towards the sides. Push the bar back to the starting position.
Repeat 5 – 10 reps for 3 sets. Add additional weight with experience.
For an added challenge, perform on a bench with an incline.
The Bottom Line
There’s no such thing as spot reduction for a part of your body. Getting rid of that spare tire can take a long time and a lot of work.
There is no magic weight loss pill that will give you a flatter stomach, visible abs, or remove stubborn belly fat.
Losing abdominal fat and getting a flat tummy requires key lifestyle changes. While you may not able to control your age and genetics, an effective way to influence your metabolism is through physical activity (not just an ab routine) and a healthy diet.
There are 2 types of belly fat: subcutaneous and visceral fat. Visceral fat increases inflammation and insulin sensitivity.
Insulin sensitivity is how your body responds to insulin. There are a lot of factors that play into where your body stores fat such as genetics, diet, age, and hormones.
The best thing is that most people can naturally reduce their abdominal fat by eating a healthy diet packed with healthy fat and lean protein.
Add a regular workout routine, not just a core workout to reduce your overall body fat. Get your nutrients through calorie intake, not supplements.
Remember, the best ab workout is a full-body aerobics workout!
For more tips on losing abdominal fat, read about “How to Lose Belly Fat in a Week: 7-Day Belly Fat Diet“.
- “Why Is Visceral Fat Worse than Subcutaneous Fat?” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 25 Apr. 2016, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160425161349.htm.
- Fukuda, Tatsuya, et al. “Ratio of Visceral-to-Subcutaneous Fat Area Predicts Cardiovascular Events in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.” Journal of Diabetes Investigation, John Wiley and Sons Inc., Mar. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5835471/.