Fitness myth: Losing belly fat with core exercises

Sounds logical, doesn’t it? Abs and core exercises to lose belly fat?

Yeah… but unfortunately, that’s not the way our bodies work. Spot reduction (which means losing fat in a specific area by training just that area) is a myth and training according to that myth will not help you reach your goals.

So how do you lose belly fat then?

Losing belly fat is achieved as part of an overall reduction of your body fat. To lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume over a period of time until you reach your fat loss goal; you need to be in a slight caloric deficit for that period of time. That is achieved through diet and exercise.

For fat loss, a combination of cardio and resistance training works best. Cardio helps you burn calories, and building muscle mass through resistance training boosts your metabolism, which means that your daily calorie requirement will go up. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn; even at rest. That’s why you should make sure to train all your big muscle groups- a whole body approach is most effective here! For cardio, you can do high intensity exercise like HIIT, longer duration, lower intensity exercise like brisk walking, cycling, jogging or swimming, or a combination of both.

Now for the diet part: Eat slightly less calories than you burn, but make sure that you still eat enough and don’t starve yourself. If your body thinks it’s starving, a survival mechanism will kick in, and your body will hold on to and store as much fat as it possibly can because it thinks it needs to get you through a famine.

But if it won’t decrease belly fat, what’s the point of training abs and core?

Having a strong core is important for many reasons. It helps your posture and can therefore help prevent issues like back pain, and you also need your core to perform many exercises for other muscle groups correctly; especially with free weights. An example for this would be keeping your back neutral and as upright as possible while doing a squat. To keep your spine neutral during a squat and to prevent falling forward, you need a strong and stable core. Lastly, once you’ve lost the fat around your midsection, having well developed abs will give you that toned look that you might have been striving for.

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