Do Ab Exercises Alone Burn Belly Fat?

by Jul 29, 2020

If I asked my pre-lockdown self that same question, I would probably say, “Why would you even consider that as a blog topic?  Of course, it does!”  Well, my post-lockdown self has a completely different answer.  And I found that answer the hard way, so you don’t have to.

For the past three weeks, I’ve added some new ab exercises to my workout routine.  Pre-covid, I used to do strictly cardio and weightlifting at the gym, finding core exercises difficult and giving up quickly.  Now, deciding quitting is lame, I do core workouts five days a week.  I never had a strong core in my life and wanted to feel what it’s like!  And let me tell you, my core is already getting stronger.  Moves I found hard before (leg lifts, planks) are nowhere near as rough for me as they were at first.  Hooray for me!

However, my clothes don’t fit any better.  In fact, they’re slightly tighter than they were three weeks ago.  Very frustrating, especially since I once wrote a blog about how tight clothing harms your skin and organs.  So, what was going on?!

Thankfully, I’ve done my reading and have gathered why I’m not losing belly fat, despite my devotion to ab workouts.  I’m still going to do them, and you should absolutely do them too!  But do them the right way.  When you spend considerably more time on just one part of your body, you most likely won’t reach your ultimate fitness goal.  Especially if you do what I did… significantly decreasing my time that was reserved for cardio to make room for my ab workouts.


How to Get the Ultimate Benefit from Ab Exercises

To get the most from your ab building routine, don’t let ab exercises alone be your new lifestyle change.  What other factors in your daily life can impact the midsection?  Here’s a list!

Cardio Exercise

    • Yep!  This was the killer for me.  Cardio is quite the calorie burner.  I had this idea that replacing 30 minutes of cardio with 30 minutes of ab workouts would give me a flatter belly.  Turns out my heel taps and bicycle crunches weren’t burning as much as good old running.  Either add cardio to your workout routine, or keep the same amount of it when you add ab work to the mix.

Resistance training

    • Cardio and strength training complement each other, so do them both!  Resistance training will improve the endurance of your muscles, improving cardiovascular efficiency which will lead to more fat loss.
    • Don’t just train the core if you’re trying to lose belly fat!  Strengthen your whole body to improve your cardio performance.

Portion Control

    • Know what’s going into your stomach.  Depending on your fitness goal, how many servings of fat, carbs, and protein do you need per day?  And how should you portion those servings at each meal?  I always recommend consulting a doctor, dietitian, or personal trainer for this one.  We all have different goals and dietary needs!
    • If you find yourself hungry between meals, opt for fibrous snacks that will keep you fuller longer.  And drinking a glass of water before every meal can help you feel full sooner and prevent you from overeating.


The Takeaway

I mentioned earlier that ab exercises have become considerably easier for me than they were a few weeks ago.  I’ve got muscle tone developing, but a layer of subcutaneous fat is sitting on top of it.  So even though I didn’t get the exact results I was looking for, I did get a worthwhile result!  I’m building strength, and that will aid me in other categories of fitness.  I will use this to work toward my goal.  Yay for happy accidents!

My takeaway is this: when you make a workout mistake, don’t beat yourself up, and absolutely don’t give up.  Look at the positives of what you’ve done for your body, even if they came with some unwanted results.  Learn from your mistakes and keep on moving!

Katrina Jenkins

Katrina Jenkins

Author, Licensed Massage Therapist

Katrina Jenkins graduated from Towson University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and worked as a nurse’s aide briefly before pursuing her true passion. She graduated from the Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado in April 2016 with honors and completed the Touch of Healers Scholarship Program the following summer. She has been a part of the Moyer Total Wellness Team since the summer of 2017.


Semeco, Arlene. “Do Ab Exercises Help You Burn Belly Fat?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 28 June 2016,,to%20help%20reduce%20body%20fat.

Rogers, Paul, and Anisha Shah. “Pairing Cardio and Weight Training for Maximum Fat Loss.” Verywell Fit, 30 Apr. 2020,

Cunha, John P. “Do Crunches Burn Belly Fat? Do Sit-Ups Burn Belly Fat?” EMedicineHealth, EMedicineHealth, 18 Apr. 2019,

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