Things are heating up in the northern hemisphere and this means one thing: swimsuit season. Some of us decide to use this as motivation to tone up a bit to boost our confidence on the beach. These are some of the best exercises to help you burn fat and feel good all over.
15 Best Exercises to Burn Belly Fat
Now let’s be clear: every body is a bikini body. If you do want to step up your workout regimen, however, these are the moves you want to be doing. Furthermore, you can’t actually spot-reduce (lose fat in one specific area, like our bellies), it’s an exercise myth. These exercises will help you to tone your muscles and aid with fat loss over-all.
Walking isn’t the first thing people think when they think exercise, but it’s actually one of the best things for your body. In fact, in places where people walk more, such as European countries, the percentage of the population that is overweight or obese is much lower than those that rely on cars and driving. Walking is also a great option for people who have problems with their knees and hips because it’s lower impact. So grab your spouse, your neighbor, your dog, or just your headphones and favorite podcast and get out there. Just 45 minutes to one hour a day of brisk walking will do wonders for your health.
Running and jogging is a fantastic way to burn fat and calories. It also helps to improve the health of your heart, lungs, and bones. Running on an incline forces you to work just that much harder and get a bit more out of your run in the same amount of time. You can do this by adding an incline to the treadmill, or you can find a hilly route to run outside. If you want to really turn things up a notch, find a somewhat steep, somewhat long hill or set of stairs near your home and run repeats. This won’t just burn calories, but it will also help to tone and lift your butt. You’re welcome in advance!
While it’s lovely to get out on the water, we don’t all have access to a proper rowing boat or a safe place to row. Indoor rowing machines bridge that gap beautifully and allow you to get a full-body cardio workout in no matter what the weather is doing outside. The rowing machine has a lower impact on your joints, as well. When rowing make sure that:
Your back stays straight and your core tight
You push with your legs, not just pull with your arms
When pulling, keep your shoulders down and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull your elbows into your sides.
For more information on proper form, watch this video below.
High-Intensity Interval Training is the solution for everyone who despises sustained cardio like running, biking, swimming, rowing, etc. Be fair warned, however: HIIT training is intense. It also typically involves a lot of jumping, so be prepared to modify if you have any joint or other issues that make this difficult.
If you are new to exercising or have never tried HIIT before, start out with videos or classes that are labeled “beginner” and work your way up from there.
Though not a calorie-burning powerhouse, yoga is amazing for mobility and muscular endurance, not to mention it can help you to destress. Stress is bad for your health for so many reasons, but one of those is it can cause you to hold onto unwanted fat. Incorporating yoga into your exercise routine will help keep your body and mind feeling and looking good from the inside out.
No, lifting weights won’t make you look “bulky”. What they will do, however, is help you replace fat mass with lean muscle mass. Even at rest, muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn as you go about your regular day. Strength training is also the type of exercise that will give you the Michelle Obama arms, Halle Berry legs, and J-Lo booty. Lift on, ladies.
Everyone’s favorite love-to-hate exercise is popular for a reason: there’s not a part of the body that it doesn’t touch. Burpees will have your heart pounding and muscles working in seconds. Legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms, core – you name it, burpees do it.
How-to: Standing tall with your feet hip-distance apart, push your hips back, and sink into a squat. When you are in the bottom position, place your hands on the floor outside of your feet and hop your legs back so that you are in the plank position. Lower your body down to the floor, then push through the heels of your hands to lift yourself back up into the plank position. Jump your feet back up towards your hands, then, keeping your weight in your heels, jump up from that position, hands high in the air. Check out this video below for more details.
Medicine Ball Burpees
If regular burpees just aren’t enough for you, consider this variation. Essentially, this move combines burpees with a medicine ball slam. Follow the same steps as above, except this time, start by lifting the ball high in the air, then using both your arms and legs, slam the ball into the ground. Then, place your hands on top of the ball and complete the rest of your burpee from that position and repeat.
Overhead Medicine Ball Slams
Take out the burpee and you’ve got a medicine ball slam. This is another move that’s got it all (legs, arms, core, cardio) as long as you do it properly.
How-to: Standing with your feet hip-distance apart, squat down and pick up the ball, keeping your back straight and core tight. Lift the ball high into the air, then using both your arms and legs, slam the ball back into the ground. Squat down to pick the ball back up and repeat. Note: It is very important that you squat down to use your legs to pick up the ball, not bend over and use your back. Especially as you fatigue, using your back to pick up the medicine ball will likely cause injury.
Check out this video for a medicine ball slam tutorial.
Side-to-Side Medicine Ball Slams
This move uses your legs, arms, and all parts of your core, in particular your obliques and your lats. These are the muscles that help to give shape to your torso.
How-to: With your feet hip-distance apart, rotate your torso and lift the ball up above one of your shoulders. Slam the ball down on the outside of your pink toe. Squat down to pick the ball up and repeat on the opposite side. Continue this motion, alternating sides each time.
Finally, a move where you can sit down! Russian twists are a great core move because the twisting motion allows you to activate all parts of your abdominal muscles.
How-to: Sit up tall with your knees bent in front of you. Tilt backward until you feel your abs engage, then lift your feet slightly off of the ground. If this is too hard, you can touch your toes lightly to the ground for more stability. Keeping your back straight and pulling your belly button into your spine, twist your torso (not just your shoulders!) to touch the ground on one side of your body. Come back to the center and twist your torso to touch the other side. For bonus difficulty, you can straighten your legs or you can add weight, such as a medicine ball or dumbbell.
Check out this video below for a Russian Twist tutorial.
Sometimes overlooked, planks are another catch-all exercise. Core, Shoulders, legs, and butt, they get your whole body fired up. Form is important here: Your back should be flat, shoulders away from your ears, and belly button pulled in towards your spine – no sinking in the lower back!
Only hold your plank for as long as you can maintain your form. Once you can no longer do that, drop down, take a short rest, then get back into position. Push yourself to hold it longer each time. If you find a straight-arm plank hard on your wrists, drop down to your elbows instead.
Check out this video below on common plank mistakes and how to correct them.
Bosu Ball Planks
When you’re ready to turn your planking up a notch or two, try doing it with your hands or feet on a Bosu ball. This will challenge your stability, which makes your core work even harder.
Like the cardio-version of a stationary plank, mountain climbers will have your heart racing in no time!
How-to: Start in a straight-arm plank position. Drive one knee in towards your chest, then switch legs, mimicking the running motion. To keep it interesting, add variations: Pull each knee across your body towards the opposite shoulder for more of a twisting motion, or bring each knee wide towards the elbow on the same side to get in a side-crunch.
Combination exercises are particularly effective for those short on time. This means instead of just doing a squat or a lunge, you incorporate a push or pulling exercise in with it. For example, A squat with a dumbbell press, or a lunge with a cable pull or dumbbell row. This way you’re working all parts of your body in half the amount of time.
The most important aspect of any exercise routine is that you enjoy it, you can do it safely, and it makes you stronger and healthier. When it comes to health and fitness, exercise is only part of the equation. If you don’t eat healthfully, the results won’t come.
Finally always remember this: Workout because you love your body and want it to be healthier, not because you hate your body and want it to be smaller.
Have a good workout!
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