I have had a couple of lower back surgeries in the past but I'm okay to do any activity. During the last 10 years I have gained a little more weight around the mid section but have been actively trying to lose the weight but with little success.

I'm currently doing hot yoga to increase my flexibility.

Currently I hit the gym 2 to 3 times a week and yoga every other week, I would like to do more of both but being a dad of four, time is limited. I have been working out in the morning for about an hour (usually cardio) and one day of the weekend for about 2 hours (Full body, upper/lower).

I've also changed my diet, the time of the day that I've been eating and the amount I eat to a healthier diet with smaller amounts about 5 times a day. I heard this would increase my metabolism. The total intake of calories for the day has stayed the same.

I'm about 6'3", 230 pounds, but would like to be around 190.


For weight loss I'm doing cardio with some weight lifting but not seeing the results I would like to see. What exercises can I perform to reduce my belly fat?

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    You can try lifting your kids in sets of 50, if you do all 4 of them that's a nice workout!
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 17:31
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    'Muscle burns more calories'? You mean in rest? Because that won't be enough to loose 40 pounds, I would recommend do focus on more cardio first, you can work on the muscles once the weight is gone.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 18:55
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    Running cuts visceral fat. sweatscience.com/… -- I would think that high intensity cycling would do the same.
    – wdypdx22
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 21:02
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    Losing fat is all about the diet. When it comes to losing fat, exercise has relatively a much smaller part to play than dieting. I would almost go so far as to say: get your diet sorted first, then start thinking about exercise. I wish someone had told me this years ago!
    – TrojanName
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 19:05
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    Follow up link to my last comment where he shows some numbers about calories burned during exercise (and of course the less fit you are, the less calories you burn when exercising) bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/…
    – TrojanName
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 19:09

8 Answers 8


There is no "best" exercise to lose belly fat. In fact, there is no exercise that will specifically target weight loss in any part of your body. The only way to lose fat in your belly is to lose fat overall.

The number one thing you can do to lose weight is look at your diet. Losing weight is as simple as burning more calories than you consume. The easiest way to reduce your caloric intake is to eat healthier foods. Alternatively, you could eat the same foods and just eat less of them.

Food you buy at the grocery store and cook yourself are often healthier than what you would get at a fast food joint because they haven't been processed as much. For many people, cutting out most of the sugar in their diet (obviously not sugar from fruit and other healthy sources) is an excellent way to lose the weight. You can split your 3 big meals into 5 smaller ones, but make sure your 5-meal calorie count total is really less than your 3-meal plan total.

Once you get your diet squared away, then you will really start to see the benefits of your exercising. I would suggest doing a lot of different exercises in the beginning and there are many to try. Figure out what you like to do and works best for you. Is there anybody you could work out with? A partner is always a big plus to exercise.

Remember, it took you 10 years to gain the little extra weight you have right now. A healthy weight loss routine would have you losing a maximum of 2 pounds per week on average. If you want to get down to 190 again, you're looking at around a year or more of a dedicated lifestyle change in order to accomplish that.

  • 37
    I wonder how many times we will see variations on the "targeted fat reduction" question, maybe this should be in the wiki. I disagree on one point though: sugar is sugar, your liver does not know if it's from fruit or not. Someone who's overweight doesn't need sugar from ANY source unless they're hiking to the farm and climbing a fruit tree to get it.
    – J. Win.
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 18:17
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    "The hard part isn't losing weight, it's keeping it off." this is such a true quote. Youi might think that a year is a long time just to lose x number of pounds but by changing your lifestyle you will keep the weight off. Example: I went on a low sodium diet and I lost 15 pounds without even trying. Of course I let my diet go and all the weight came back. Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 19:10
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    @Even - I never said "go on a diet". Saying that implies that you will some day "go off" your diet. I say you need a "dedicated lifestyle change". Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 18:16
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    @Evan Plaice - Again, I never said "go on a diet", I would never say that. I did say to look at his diet and that 2 pounds per week on average is a good healthy weight loss amount. Obviously you will lose more at the beginning than at the end, that's why I said average. His current lifestyle habits are what made him overweight. The only way to lose fat is to change that lifestyle for the better. A majority of weight loss occurs outside of the gym. Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 11:50
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    @J.Winchester I wouldn't say sugar == sugar, because there are many variations--both artificial and natural--which have a different impact on the body. Knowing the difference between good and bad sugars is crucial, especially when you are trying to limit your daily sugar intake.
    – Moses
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 19:02

Start with cardio and progress to weights

Start by targeting a 'moderate' heart rate to burn the fat you already have. By moderate I mean Aerobic on the chart below.

Heart rate chart

Note: Image taken from [Wikipedia][4] and falls under CC-SA license.

Ignore the 'Weight Control' region for a minute and bear with me. What you're targeting here is the Aerobic Zone. Why, you may ask? While the weight burning zone is good for burning fat while you work out, it isn't really optimal for weight loss because as soon as you stop your body will go back to it's normal resting heart rate.

When you do an Aerobic workout, not only will the workout burn a lot of energy itself but it will continue to burn energy for the rest of the day. Try taking your heart rate a few hours after you finish running, you'll find that it's still chugging along burning energy.

So that takes care of initially burning off the excess energy (fat) but how do you keep it off in the long term without having to go to the gym 3 times a week (for your 30-60 minute cardio run)? Build muscle mass.

I'm not talking about the Type 1 muscles that you build from doing long distance running. I'm talking about the Type 2 fast twitch muscles that use tons of energy just to maintain themselves. These are what you build with exercises like weight lifting, (some) team sports (basketball, soccer, hockey), sprinting, etc...

There are 3 ways to check your heart rate while working out:

  • Count your pulse

This method is a PITA and it's nearly impossible to do while running.

  • Get a heart rate monitor

I highly recommend using one of these if you have the money to burn because not only does it let you see a real time measurement but having constant feedback over a long period of time gives you a sense of how hard you should be pushing yourself while you work out

  • Listen to what your body tells you

This is the best method when you first start out. The problem with the generic chart above is it assumes that you're in good health and average everything when in fact you're not (especially when you're out of shape).

The key terms you need to remember are 'aerobic' and 'anaerobic'. What these two terms mean are 'with oxygen' and 'without oxygen'. When you hit your aerobic range you start breathing harder because your body requires more oxygen to meet the performance needs of your workout. This is about the equivalent to a moderate-fast jog for somebody in good shape. The anaerobic range is when your body loses its ability to break down lactate at a fast enough rate and it starts to accumulate in your blood stream. Lactic acid is a byproduct of anaerobic metabolism and one of the reasons you feel sore the day after a hard workout. This is the stage when you find yourself gasping for air and feel your muscles burning. It's also the state you'll find yourself in when you start doing strenuous workouts.

The reason I say to feel it out when you first start is, your body is most likely in poor working shape. Because it's not used to the strain of exercise, it won't be adapted to the high demand of oxygen. You'll find yourself gasping for oxygen even on easy workouts and everything in the chart gets shifted because your VO2 max is much lower.

It takes some time for your body to adjust to exercise. It has to produce more red blood cells to carry oxygen. Drinking enough water is important for this or you'll get the workout hangover feeling. Your body also needs to cleanse itself of toxins like crap in your lungs and vascular system. It takes time for your body to fully adjust (don't rush the progression).

Listen to what your body tells you. Start out with the aerobic stuff and wait until it starts to feel easy until you introduce the harder workouts. Eventually, when you're ready you can shift over completely.

I usually start with 30-60 minute runs and after a week or two introduce a sprint. The sprint involves a mile to warm up (and to gradually get up to speed) a mile on full speed, and a mile to cool down (and gradually reduce the speed). When I say gradually increase/decrease the speed I'm talking some small increment that you use (like .5mph per 10th of a mile). Even if you're gasping after the mile at full speed force yourself to follow the gradual decreases in speed (unless you physically can't). What this does is push your anaerobic threshold even higher. A higher anaerobic threshold means you'll feel less sore and you'll be able to work out harder without feeling fatigued in the future.

At that point the workout doesn't need to get any longer (the sprints only get more difficult if you choose to push yourself). The sprint takes about 15-20 minutes to accomplish (less if I the warm-up cool-down phases are shortened) and you don't really need to do it that often for maintenance (max 2 times a week).

The benefits are, your body will naturally burn more energy because of the increase in muscle mass and if you quit for a while you still won't get chubby.

My general rule for muscle mass is, it takes 3 times longer to lose it than it took to build it (that's what I find at least). Meaning that if you work out and continue to improve over a 3 month period it'll take 9 months until you fall back into bad shape (a really bad diet can make this worse).

You may replace sprinting with lifting weights if you want but take note that it will take more time/work to maintain. Running builds muscle all throughout your body whereas lifting weights only targets individual regions. My 15-20min routine may take 1hr of lifting weights to effectively match.

As for diet, increase lean protein sources and decrease carbohydrates and fatty meats (like beef). By lean protein I'm referring to eggs, tuna, edamame, beans, chicken (if it's cooked right). Be sure not go on a protein-only diet though, a diverse diet is still important.

Another thing to make sure of is, always do cardio on an empty stomach (don't eat within 3 hours of a workout). If you're exercising in the morning, make sure you get a good meal the night before. You shouldn't need a whole lot of energy if you're not exercising for an extended period and this will force your body to burn the energy it has readily stored (fat). Save the meal for right after the workout, within 45 minutes after a workout is the period when nutrient uptake is at its greatest (and if feels the most satisfying).

As for lifting weights, if you plan to do it for an extended period of time you may need to eat before. Watch out for a feint light headed feeling (if you feel like this don't keep lifting). Light headedness is an indicator of low blood sugar so adjust your routine to eat before.


I have just realized a glaring mistake in the heart rate chart. The 'Maximum Effort' zone is not your V02 MAX. Your VO2 MAX is the point where your body's oxygen uptake reaches it's maximum so it has to fire up your anaerobic metabolism to compensate. This 'correct' classification of this would be the borderline between your aerobic and anaerobic zones.

@ldx Also had a very interesting link with a lot of good info about studies that determine the differences (results obtained) between aerobic/anaerobic exercises that should help your further optimize your workouts (I'm definitely going to try making some adjustments).

  • 1
    @Ivo I'm not really sure either. I've heard different things from different sources. My take with this is, burn off a lot of excess but, more importantly, get your body into shape first with the aerobic exercise. Then, work up to the higher intensity workouts to build muscle mass thereby burning more energy and keeping it off when you aren't working out. The key is increasing your caloric expenditure even when you're not working out. Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 21:40
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    Wow! great breakdown and definitely some things to consider in my workout, thanks Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 13:05
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    @Phil No problem, I really hope it helps. I think most people have so much trouble staying in shape because they get tired of constantly dieting and/or doing light cardio on a regular basis just to maintain their current weight. Most information about stuff like V02 Max and BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)are plain wrong because they calculate values based on you being average everything. In reality it's possible to dramatically change these values to increase your energy consumption so you can get off the bird dieting. Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 18:21
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    @Phil (cont) One thing most people don't realize is when your body is craving a lot of energy, everything tastes better (I mean a lot better). The best thing I've ever tasted in my life was a strawberry creamsaver at the end of my 3rd day of really hard hiking (and carrying a 75lb pack) on a trip. I can remember it like it was yesterday (and that was 8 years ago). Right now, I'm not really in very good shape (not overweight but not fit) and I could eat a whole bag of cream savers without feeling anything. It's kinda funny how that works. Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 18:38
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    @Brian Calories burned are not the only benefit of exercise. A healthier cardiovascular and respiratory system mean that your body can more effectively metabolize as well as carry nutrients/energy to all of the muscles in your body. I'm not saying exercise is the silver bullet, I'm saying that exercise will greatly accelerate your progress if you workout the right way. Take a look at fitness.stackexchange.com/q/2413/501 and more importantly youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM to see what I mean. Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 2:09

I agree with Sparafusile that "targeted fat reduction" is not possible. When your body stores fat you have no control over where it happens. The only solution is to convince your body to stop storing so much fat. Because fat storage is regulated by hormonal signals that are influenced by WHAT you eat, I have some different recommendations. Try eating less often. Skipping breakfast is a form of intermittent fasting, and makes your body burn fat throughout the morning. Eliminate processed carbohydrates from your diet and you will probably find that your energy levels are more steady and missing a meal will not bother you. Instead of hours of cardio that can just end up making you eat more the next day, do some high intensity interval exercise, with or without weights. Crossfit.com or P90X are good examples. I have had good success with these methods and the most important factor for me is the short duration of the workouts.

  • 2
    interesting that you say skipping a meal is ok, I've read different views on this. I thought that by skipping a meal your body stores more fat as it thinks it's not getting enough food, is this correct? Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 19:02
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    it's all about your metabolism. Fasting is only a temporary solution before your body goes into OMG mode. Fasting long enough can eat away your muscles - not fat. Skipping a meal might be a good idea if your meal is going to be McDonalds. Everyone is different but the rule is to find ways to keep your metabolism working. Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 19:06
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    The time scale of fasting is the important thing. I'm not talking about starvation over many days or weeks, but try 12-18 hours a day. Most likely you are already fasting 8-12 hours at night, so you could just extend it into the morning some days or every day. Your body (via mitochondria) will learn to depend more on stored fat rather than glucose for fuel, reducing craving and the wild blood sugar swings that cycle between "omg excess glucose got to store fat" and "omg crash gotta eat right now".
    – J. Win.
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 19:58
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    The starvation mode thing is largely myth. Google the Minnesota experiment or just starvation mode. You lose just as much fat as muscle in extreme calorie deprivation. Furthermore, if you don't eat anything at all your metabolism will actually increase for the first couple days and only begin to decrease after that, so yes, skipping breakfast is OK.
    – Luis
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 13:32
  1. It is absolutely impossible to eliminate body fat in "only one place".

  2. Lifting weights has no connection to eliminating body fat. Lifting weights makes your muscles larger (which is totally fantastic) but has no connection to eliminating body fat.

  3. The only way to eliminate body fat is via diet. Body fat is simply caused by eating carbohydrates, which triggers your pancreas to cause glycerides (always present in your bloodstream) to pass in to fat cells in your body (becoming triglycerides). It's just that simple.

(If you grab your gut and feel "flab," that is just fat cells, blown up like balloons, with triglycerides inside them.)

  1. To eliminate body fat just slash carbohydrate intake. You might say "OK, I'll eat zero carbohydrates" but that simply won't work (it's simply impossible to have that much willpower). You have to eat the "Goldilocks" amount of carbohydrates (about 70 grams a day) ..... not too little, not too much.

    • Note that in the modern diet (for the last few hundred years) people eat incredibly more carbohydrates than this amount each day, so for a week you will feel you are eating strangely, then you will feel in perfect health (and easily eliminate body fat each week).

    • Absolutely no willpower is required. The only reason people have hunger, and "want to" eat more than they need to (why would your body possibly make you want to do that?) is because they eat incredibly high daily amounts of carbohydrates.

  2. Regarding aerobic exercise (jogging). (i) If you do an enormous amount of jogging (say, two hours a day) that will use a very small amount of calories - i.e., you will be able to additionally eat a small amount of food equal to "that many" calories. However (ii) exercise makes you hungry (far, far in excess of the "amount of calories extra you can eat"...) so exercise is pointless if your aim, as such, is to eliminate body fat.

Here's one of many books that explains concisely the above.


I agree with above answers that there no way to target belly fat. But four keys that control stomach fat are exercise, diet, sleep, and stress management. With a regular routine exercises such as walking, jogging and other cardio exercises, approximately 20 minutes per day. With a proper and balanced diet, a good sleep and a decrease of stress in your life can help you attain your fat loss goal faster.


I agree with the previous answers about there being no way to 'target' belly fat. Sounds like you're aware of your diet and are trying to modify it to reduce your weight. The most important change I made (and lost about 20 lbs - went from 220 to 200, back around 210 but healthy weight) was to keep a journal (simple book and pen) of what I ate and what exercises I did. My diet changes were similar to yours: smaller meal size, but more frequent, cleaner eating, removing BAD things like ice cream and soda........and fast food. I also started a heavy weight lifting program and Tabata (the best exercise routine I think for cardio in a short time frame available).

  • 1
    This is a great point. I always lose anything I write on paper, but fitday.com is a great site to track what you eat and even produces charts extending over long time periods.
    – J. Win.
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 20:00
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    It's even easier nowadays to take a cell phone pic of everything - everything! - you eat. You can then easily get a rough feeling of where you stand over time in terms of quality & quantity of food.
    – JDelage
    Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 16:13
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    That's actually a great idea - taking a pic of everything you eat for a food diary program........ Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 12:30

You can't target the fat in your belly as everyone has pointed out, however you can do certain exercises that are best for fat burning.

High impact aerobic exercise is better for fat burning than low impact - an example of low impact is swimming. A great high impact activity for fat burning is interval training. There's a 1001 variations on it, just Google "sprint training". Alternatively a sport like 5-aside football, tennis, basketball. You'll need to do those 2-3 times a week though to get any noticeable benefit.

Here's a training routine from Men's Health a few years ago (which also re-iterated the paragraph above)

"Fat burner"
Use a running track.
Sprint 100m as fast as you can, then jog the rest.
Repeat 5 times.

Treadmill version: 20 second sprint, 60 seconds jog.

"Enjoy a metabolism increase of 40%"

Avoiding alcohol is the other obvious way to lose the belly fat. If you drink 2-3 pints of beer three times a week, being alcohol free for a week will lose you 0.25kg.

  • 1
    ..."Enjoy a metabolism increase of 40%" sorry but is this number-philia? Where do they get the number? And what does the statement actually mean in this context? Change of cells by 40%, sorry? Metabolism here.
    – user2598
    Commented Dec 27, 2011 at 11:25
  • @hhh unfortunately Men's Health isn't aimed at skeptics :) You're meant to blindly trust them! The general idea applies though, which is interval training is more effective for fat burning.
    – Chris S
    Commented Dec 27, 2011 at 13:06

I am 51 years old and I am training 4 days a week now, and have lost weight and gained muscle by following what I explain below.

In my experience as a trainer in London, I started 27 years ago to train people for competition and myself,to lose weight with weight training and no cardio when everyone was telling me the opposite.

So as far as exercise go, you can only do weight and no cardio, and you will lose weight, to do this you have to accompany this with a way of eating, once you have achieved your goal you can decide how to continue.

First, I would stop eating 4 -5 times a day, because every time you eat it trigger insulin release, and if there is insulin in your blood you are not losing weight, especially if it is been triggered by carbohydrate and simple sugars.

To do this you need to switch to eat 2 or 3 times a day maximum, with the majority of your calories intake coming from good fats sources,( Olive oil, coconut oil, butter, avocado, salmon Etc..) vegetables and salads and proteins, 75% fats, 20% proteins and 5% carbs which you will derive from the vegetables.

If you feel you need some more energy for the training, then you just make sure you eat some carbs about 1 hour before training in the form of low Glycemic index fruit, but ONLY then, as fructose once stored does not get used as an energy source.

Then your body only uses carbs during training, the rest of the time is forced to use stored fats, which do not spike insulin.

  • Your response is riddled with assumptions, opinion, and questionable science. What may have worked for you, will not necessarily work for someone else.
    – rrirower
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 16:33
  • I am sorry, but just because I do not add into my answer many links that would direct people to papers or videos of scientist stating the same, it does not mean that they do not exist. In fact you can see yourself that my description of the % for the diet, are referring to a Keto diet, which is more then scientifically proven, I was trying to keep explanations simple, without jargon that people may not understand.
    – Flavio
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 11:51

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