Do Ab Exercises Alone Burn Belly Fat?

by Jul 29, 2020

Do Ab Exercises Really Burn Belly Fat?

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 to quit 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!


Written by: Katrina Jenkins, LMT

Photo credit: Canva


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,

Read More from Our Blog

What is PNF Stretching?

PNF stretching, or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, is a form of assisted stretching...
girl stretching after a workout

When Is the Best Time to Stretch?

“I know, I need to stretch more.”  This is something I hear often from first-time patients,...
injured woman getting help from a nurse and crutches to be able to walk

Preventing Falls and Related Injuries

Did you know that every second of every day, an older adult suffers a fall-related injury?  Falls...
person getting a neck and back massage with a face mask on

How Massage Strengthens Your Immune System

When you think of ways to boost immunity, your first thoughts might be to pound some vitamin C and...
man in white t-shirt grabbing his back

What Does It Mean to Throw Out Your Back?

What exactly does it mean to throw out your back?  The very term throwing your back out sounds...