You may already be aware that it's impossible to spot-reduce fat, which includes the fat on your belly; you have to work to reduce your total body fat in order to see results there. So if endless core workouts won't get you a perfectly flat belly, you might wonder what will. Full-body workouts, upper-body workouts? What about lower body, where some of your largest muscle groups are? It's exciting to think that strengthening your legs and glutes could also help you burn fat, but can it?
Do Lower-Body Workouts Burn Belly Fat?
Lower-body exercises are actually a great choice for burning calories, said exercise physiologist Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, a fitness adviser for Bowflex. "When burning fat is a primary goal, you want to perform exercises that utilize as many muscle groups as possible to burn as many calories as possible," he told POPSUGAR. That means that compound lower-body exercises in particular can be very helpful. Moves that involve multiple muscle groups such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts, for example, burn lots of calories during a workout. Beyond that, building lean muscle as you do with a lower-body strength workout will increase your resting metabolic rate, which means you'll continue to burn calories after your workout, Tom said.
That metabolic piece can't be stressed enough. Tom explained that one common misconception is that building muscle in your lower body will only function to increase your strength. It does, but that's not the only benefit. Training large leg muscles and your glutes, which are the biggest muscles in your body, "can also be a powerful form of metabolic conditioning, and burning calories," Tom explained. And these two things can help decrease overall body fat, which in turn should help decrease belly fat — but your lower-body workout will not target belly fat specifically.
Lower-body workouts really do give you that extra bang for your buck. You're getting stronger, building muscle, and burning calories, all at the same time. Of course, you shouldn't only be doing lower-body work. Full-body workouts can be the more time-effective choice for building muscle and burning fat, Tom said. We also know that cardio is key in any weight-loss routine, burning major calories and building your endurance. And high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is worth your consideration as well. Done with compound bodyweight or weighted exercises, Tom told POPSUGAR that a HIIT workout will burn calories and may specifically target abdominal fat. You'll also need to maintain a healthy diet in order to see the results of your hard work. (Start with this two-week healthy eating plan.)
Ready to put this into practice? Try this weeklong belly fat-blasting workout plan for an effective combination of cardio and strength training days and give this lower-body workout with weights a shot as well. And make sure to hit those lower-body compound moves.