Are you dropping body fat with bodyweight exercises, but still trying to get rid of that little bit of belly fat? You are not alone…

Levi, I’ve been doing the standard plank every day for a few weeks and I think I’ve lost some belly fat, but I’m wondering if I’m imagining things. Do these plank exercises burn fat in the process of strengthening my body?

I’ve read all over the Internet that the exercise tones your body but haven’t seen any information that it actually burns fat. A friend told me that it did. I want to get a second opinion. I’ve lost over 50 pounds in the last year on the stationary bike! I’m around 5’10” and now 164 pounds. Everyone in my life has noticed the loss and I’ve felt much more confident. One thing still bothers me, though, – my waist. I still have belly fat and love handles. I so dearly want to get rid of them and my belly. Thanks for reading!

Sincerely,
Bellyfat Benjamin

Hi Benjamin,

Congratulations on your weight loss! That is quite an accomplishment, especially when done on a *stationary* bike! Spending any amount of time on a stationary bike takes some commitment!

But yes, the last place you’re going to lose fat is around your midsection. It’s not uncommon to have veins popping out of your arms and legs, but then have a gut!

I can’t say from direct weight loss experience, but from my observations (as well as principles that apply to other endeavors,) I would estimate that it’s harder to lose the last 5-10 pounds of belly fat than it is to lose 50-100 pounds and go from “overweight” to “reasonably slim.” But, it is possible with the right diet and exercise.

What’s The Right Diet?

When it comes to diet, I do have an article about dieting for six pack abs, in case you missed it.

Exercise for Fat Loss

It takes more than a perfect diet, though, so let’s talk about exercise. Yes, exercise burns fat. It also burns glycogen (i.e. sugar). Depending on the intensity of the exercise, you will burn a different percentage of each fuel.

There are many theories (and myths) out there about the “fat burning zone” and whatnot, but I suggest you ignore those (since so many of them fall into the myth category). As long as you’re burning off a lot of calories in total, it doesn’t matter whether you’re burning carbs or fat.

The point of it all is, high intensity exercise is the way to go. For example, doing a bunch of bodyweight exercises like the plank over the course of 20-30 minutes will probably burn as much fat as 1-2 hours of easy riding on a stationary bike. (Long days of hiking and bike riding are fun and are certainly a good way to burn fat, but you probably don’t have time to exercise 6+ hours each day.)

Toning?

Toning is a whole other story, especially how it’s portrayed by the average fitness magazine, but here’s the quick version: Toning = fat loss. It’s the same thing. The “toned” look is simply because your muscles are more pronounced once you lose body fat. You can get a toned look by building more muscle or by losing fat, but to actually “tone” a muscle is a very complicated topic. Muscle can get bigger, but “toning” is just a word that is misused all too often (usually by the same people telling you you’ll lose a lot of fat by taking a stroll around the block!)

(*True muscle toning is beyond the scope of this article, and is better left for someone like Pavel Tsatsouline to explain.)

So keep eating healthy and exercising hard, and you’ll keep getting closer to that chiseled body. (Here’s a free workout and nutrition program, if you’re looking for one.)

Just don’t expect it to be quick and easy, that will just lead to disappointment.

Lose Some Fat and Really Show Off Those Abs!

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2 Comments
  1. sprint like an olympian and that fat wwill be blasted

  2. @Jay

    Yes, sprinting is a great form of high intensity training for fat loss. It’s also great training for racing.

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