Muffin top. Belly pooch. There are plenty of ways to describe extra belly fat, but all of them have less-than-desireable monikers. Whether you’ve struggled to lose belly fat after having kids, have recently hit menopause and found maintaining a flat stomach more difficult than it used to be, or life (and cupcakes) have simply gotten in the way, most of us have dealt with carrying extra weight around our middle before. If you want to get rid of lower belly pooch for good, though, it’s not enough to try a few sit-ups and call it a day. Getting rid of belly fat and sculpting the muscles underneath requires both changing your diet and ramping up your workouts. Luckily, we’ve got an intense 15-minute workout filled with moves to help you define the most important (and overlooked) muscles in your core, including the transverse abdominus and obliques. Combined with our healthy eating and lifestyle tips, you’ll get rid of lower belly pooch for good.
Why You Can’t Spot-Reduce Belly Fat
Before we get into the workout, we have to burst your bubble with some hard truth: you can’t spot reduce belly fat. In fact, you can’t spot reduce any area of fat on your body. You can, however, spot tone. Here’s what we mean. If you have excess belly fat (that dreaded “lower belly pooch”) it can be exacerbated by stress and sleep, but it’s mostly an issue of….well…fat. If you want to lose fat, you have to lose it all over. That’s where the dietary and lifestyle tips that we have for you will come in—sit tight.
Related: Can Stress Cause Belly Fat?
You can, however, tone specific areas of your body by using specific exercises. Squats will tone your legs, thighs, and buns. Push-ups will tone your shoulders, back, and arms. And yes, crunches will work one muscle in your core—the rectus abdominus—but to get rid of belly pooch you first have to shed the fat that’s covering up your muscles. The rectus abdominus muscle is that straight-down-the-middle muscle that, if strengthened enough, is where your “six pack” shows up. It is important to work the rectus abdominus with moves like crunches, but getting a more toned tummy includes both working other muscles and using cardio and a healthy diet to lose the weight that’s covering up your muscles.
4 Steps To Get Rid Of Lower Belly Pooch
Like we said earlier, doing a few sit-ups alone is not going to get rid of your belly pooch. Here’s what will—make sure you’re doing these things FIRST and then get ready to incorporate our awesome 15-minute workout at the end of this article to seal the deal on flat abs and say sayonara to belly pooch.
1. Get 150 minutes of heart-pumping cardio per week
These are the CDC guidelines for healthy, active adults. Cardio can include anything from jogging, jumping rope, cycling, or a spin class. Without cardio each week, the strength training exercises may tone your abs, but you’ll have excess fat covering them up.
2. Fit in HIIT 1-2 times per week
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is crucial to anyone looking to burn fat. HIIT helps burn fat and torch more calories in a shorter amount of time than other workouts. Consider HIIT your intense workouts, while your cardio workouts are more steady-state. You need a mix of both!
3. Eat clean and lean
It’s true, you can’t work off a bad diet. Make sure your diet includes plenty of protein, veggies, and healthy fats. Not sure what eating clean looks like in the real world? Download my Clean Eating Program to learn the right balance of healthy carbs, fats, and protein to eat for optimal health and weight management, plus a two-week meal plan and grocery lists to get you prepped with the basics.
4. Minimize stress levels
High cortisol (the stress hormone) levels have actually been linked to belly fat retention. Manage stress through meditation, yoga, and self-care and see if you notice a difference. Although it’s not necessarily the first step in addressing belly fat, for some people chronic stress can definitely cause them to hold on to more visceral fat.
And….Drumroll please! The next step is to perform our 15-minute workout to get rid of lower belly pooch 2-3 times per week! Here’s what you’ve been waiting for!
15-Minute Workout To Get Rid Of Lower Belly Pooch
Now that you’ve learned the diet and lifestyle changes needed to get rid of lower belly pooch, here is the 15-minute workout that completes the picture. This workout will tone and sculpt all the muscles in your core, including your transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, and oblique muscles. (Your transverse abdominus is considered your “low abs” and is especially crucial for toning the lower stomach!) Do this workout first thing when you get up, while the kids are eating breakfast, or at the gym on your lunch break—whenever you have time to squeeze it in.
Perform each of these moves for 1 minute. Take a 1-minute rest afterwards—then start from the beginning and do another 1 minute for each move.
1) Stand with feet a little wider than hip distance apart, knees bent, and hands held behind the back of your head.
2) Bend to the right, reaching right hand toward floor behind your leg. Keep spine long.
3) Return to center and repeat on the left side.
1) Start lying on mat with fingers at the base of your head and elbows pointed out. Bring the soles of your feet together, knees pointed outward.
2) Tilt your chin slightly forward and squeeze abdominals to lift chest upward. Keep arms and neck relaxed. Slowly lower down and repeat.
Side Plank Lift and Lower
1) Start by laying on your right side with forearm below shoulder, body lifted and legs long and feet stacked. Keep body straight, abs tight and place left hand on hip.
2) Dip your hips down towards the mat and lift back up, using your obliques and core muscles.
1) Start lying on the mat with arms over your head and legs long.
2) Sweep arms out to sides and bring head, neck, and shoulders off the mat reaching arms long and lift one leg up and in towards the chest. Reaching arms forward on the sides of the leg. Roll back to mat lowering the leg, and repeat on the other side.
Ab Reverse Curl
1) Lie on mat and extend your legs straight up towards the ceiling.
2) As you exhale, tighten your low belly to push your feet straight into the air. Hips will lift slightly off the mat.
3) Return you hips and lower back to the mat with control. Use your abdominals vs. momentum to create the movement and avoid rolling onto the neck
In In Out Out Plank
1) Begin in a forearm plank position with your body in a straight line and abdominals contracted.
2) Step your left foot out to the left; step your right foot out to the center.
3) Step your left foot back to center; step your right foot back to center.
Bird Dog Crunch
1) Kneel on the mat on all fours. Reach one arm long, draw in the abs, and extend the opposite leg long behind you.
2) Bring the elbow and knee in towards your center as you round your back remember to draw in your abs. repeat on other side.