Will doing jumping jacks in your living room every few days make you lose belly fat? No. Can they, however, help with the process of shedding fat in that abdominal area if done right? Sure! We spoke to two personal trainers — NASM- and ACE-certified Ali Greenman and Charlee Atkins, CSCS, founder of Le Sweat — about how this move you most likely learned in gym class can, along with other important factors, result in fat loss.
Can Jumping Jacks Help You Lose Belly Fat?
First thing's first: you cannot spot reduce fat. That goes for any fat on your body, belly included. Bodyweight cardio moves like jumping jacks, however, can torch calories and work to burn overall fat. The most effective way to do this is to incorporate jumping jacks into a high-intensity interval training workout — shorts bursts of maximum-effort activity interspersed with short rest periods — Ali said. "By using bodyweight cardio exercises like jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and burpees, you can certainly get a very good workout that will help with fat loss," she told POPSUGAR. Going all out for your "on" intervals pushes your cardiovascular and metabolic systems, and you continue to burn calories after the fact. Plus, some evidence does suggest that HIIT targets abdominal fat specifically.
Ali used Tabata as an example. This, if you aren't familiar, is a form of HIIT that's 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. You'd do as many jumping jacks as you can in the 20-second window, then catch your breath for 10 seconds and repeat this sequence for a total of four minutes. "Your heart rate should be pretty high by the time you're done," Ali said. "Do this with a couple different exercises to create a full session, or use it as a finisher for your usual workout. Either way, this system of getting your heart rate to go up and down will leave your body burning calories long after your workout is complete." This is referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or the afterburn effect. (Try this 45-min HIIT workout that includes jumping jacks.)
Charlee said that jumping jacks are a great full-body exercise you can add to any exercise routine. "The easiest way to exercise and lose fat would be to combine cardio and strength training," Charlee explained. "For some, a jumping jack would suffice as a cardio and strength move, but for others who have exercise experience, it is recommended to incorporate resistance training in the form of weightlifting and cardio workout routines to maximize results." Ultimately, building muscle through strength training will help you lose fat because muscle is more metabolically active. The higher amount of muscle mass you have, the more calories you'll burn at rest. So, yes, you can do jumping jacks, but you should also remember to pick up the weights.
Other Factors You Need to Remember For Losing Belly Fat
- Diet: Cut back on trans fat, added sugars, and processed foods. Eating in a healthy caloric deficit will help you lose weight overall — check out these fat-burning food tips from dietitians.
- Sleep: A lack of sleep could increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause belly fat. So, make sure you're getting enough (at least seven hours is the general recommendation).
- Genetics: Keep in mind that fat — especially abdominal fat — is genetic. Yes, there are always ways to lose it, but your metabolism is impacted by your family history.
Jumping jacks, like other bodyweight cardio moves, burn calories and are most effective for fat loss when used in a HIIT workout. That's the bottom line. And don't forget to eat well, get enough sleep, and manage your stress levels if your goal is fat loss. Now, off you go!