How To Get Rid Of A Muffin Top

Core Workouts, Fitness, Training Advice, Training Tips

By: // June 22, 2017

Everybody loves a good muffin… unless it ends up around their middle.

Having extra belly fat can be frustrating and hard to change. It’s so overwhelming to sort through the conflicting information out there about detoxes, fad diets, and ab exercises that promise to give you a flat stomach by Sunday. We’ll help you bust some of those belly fat myths, explore what causes muffin top fat in the first place, and give you a comprehensive plan to get rid of belly fat for good—including a workout that will blast fat using HIIT-style exercise. Read on!

Jump to Muffin Top Workout

What Causes Muffin Top Fat?

Having excess belly fat (affectionately referred to as a “muffin top”) can be caused by a variety of factors. The most obvious cause of a muffin top is simply carrying extra fat all over. (If you have pounds to lose, you likely have extra weight around your middle as well as other areas.) But here are four other factors that can contribute to belly fat, too.

1. Genetics

If you’re carrying a little extra fat all over, some of it will logically be carried around your waistline. But the truth is, where your body naturally tends to store the most fat is mostly due to genetics.

If your grandmother and mother were traditionally more “pear-shaped” for example, you’re likely to be shaped that way too. But don’t use your genetics as an excuse to feel defeated. If you have excess belly fat, you can start by losing fat all over and then toning your abs. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

2. Poor Diet

Have you ever heard the phrase “flat abs are made in the kitchen?” It’s true! Consuming a lot of sugary sodas, high-sodium foods, and artificial ingredients will naturally lead to belly bloat.

Different foods also trigger bloating in different people; keep a food log for a week to write down what you ate for each meal and how your stomach feels afterwards.

3. Stress

Some studies show that chronic stress can lead to an increase in visceral fat because when your body is flooded with cortisol (the stress hormone), it sends a signal to hold on to visceral fat for survival. (Visceral fat is stored within your abdominal cavity, meaning it appears as belly fat.)

Not only does chronic stress contribute to belly fat by storing excess visceral fat, but being stressed can naturally make you reach for more salty and sugary snacks as a coping mechanism. To improve your health (and your waistline), stress management is just as important as anything else.

4. Hormones

If you’re entering perimenopause or menopause and finding you have more fat around your middle, it could be a change in hormones. If you are estrogen dominant (even if you have both low estrogen and low progesterone) you can store more belly fat than you want. Check out this article to learn how to balance your hormones for weight loss.

Belly Fat Myths To STOP Buying Into

False ads and ideas saturate the market. Everywhere you turn there is a commercial telling you how “easy” it is flatten your belly in days or melt your muffin top in no time. You may have tried some of these ways to lose belly fat to no avail. Let’s break some of them down right now to see why they don’t work.

MYTH #1: Spot Reducing Works

woman with tape measure around waist

Admit it, you’ve tried it. Everyone does at some point. You find the part of your body that annoys you and you work that area over and over hoping it will eventually disappear. In this case doing hundreds of crunches over and over will not get rid of a muffin top.

What we know about fat is that short of liposuction, you can’t zap fat away from one particular place. Working on lowering your overall body fat is the key.

MYTH #2: Starvation Diets Are Smart

As soon as someone decides they are going to get rid of their muffin top the first logical step (aside from doing 100 crunches) is to change their diet. However, many people try to skip meals or go on some crazy special shake or grapefruit-only diet—which is not going to work.

When you skip meals, you put your body into “starvation mode.” The body begins to conserve calories and store them as fat to be ready for that possible famine. Hear this loud and clear: the best way to lose weight is to eat healthy food in proper proportions several times a day! And after all is said and done, don’t you just want a solution that lasts and includes normal eating?

Related: The One Diet That Actually Works

MYTH #3: Constant Cardio Is The Key

Another impulse when it comes to fat loss is to begin overexercising. Many people on their journey to melt their muffin top have attempted doing cardio exercise for hours every week. Of course cardio exercise is important. The CDC recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a week. That’s 30 minutes of cardio at least 5 days a week.

Cardio exercise burns calories, increases your energy and opens up your oxygen pathways. It is good! But that recommendation is based on health, not weight loss or fat loss. To take off those pounds, you have to eat better and do a mixture of cardio, high intensity intervals, and strength training.

How To Get Rid Of A Muffin Top: 4 Proven Solutions

woman doing yoga to get rid of muffin top

Okay, so we’ve conquered a few of the myths. It’s probably a relief to know you don’t have to starve yourself, do hundreds of crunches or walk for hours on end. But what CAN you do? What really works? We’ve touched on some of it already, but let’s dig deeper.

1. Eat Clean 

You’ve probably heard this phrase by now, but if you haven’t, listen loud and clear: You can’t work off a bad diet. In an editorial by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers say excess sugar and carbs— not physical inactivity— are primarily to blame for the growing obesity epidemic.

No matter how much you move, eating poorly works against you and it will win every time. Excess calories, especially those in the form of sugar and unhealthy fats, end up as fat on your body and that includes you belly.

You can't work off a bad diet. Click to Tweet

Eating clean doesn’t mean starving yourself! The key is to choose the yummy healthy, whole foods. Clean eating includes lots of vegetables, fruit, lean protein and healthy fats. The choices are wide open! Walk the perimeter of your local grocer or visit a farmers market just to see your options.

If you’re not sure how to start, try our eBook Get Started With Clean Eating for a little guidance. The important thing is to eat sensibly-portioned meals several times a day that are made up of vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.

2. Strength Train

As discussed above, long durations of low intensity cardio might help you lose a little weight but a significant amount of that weight will be muscle. That’s not good. Muscle is active tissue that HELPS you burn calories. You want it.

The reason for this is because of something called your Basal Metabolic Rate, which is the number of calories your body burns at rest. As you increase lean muscle on your body, you also increase your Basal Metabolic Rate. That means a higher metabolism. Win! So get some strength training in at least twice a week in addition to the cardio that you do.

3. Cardio Intervals

That low intensity cardio we discussed is great once or twice a week, but a far more efficient use of your time is to try out High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. This is a form of cardio that has you work as hard as you can for short periods of time (20-30 seconds) with short periods of rest in between.

HIIT training, or similar styles like Tabata intervals, are more efficient at burning calories and keep your metabolism elevated long AFTER you are done exercising. So calories will continue to burn even as you move throughout the next part of your day.

4. Train Your Core The Right Way

Eliminating the fat around your mid-section with better eating and proper exercise is crucial. The next step to achieving a flatter belly is to work on strengthening your Transverse Abdominus (“TVA”). This is the muscle that sits deep and low in your belly.

By taking time to strengthen this muscle properly, you create a built-in corset that will pull your tummy in, protect your low back and promote better posture—something that will also make you look leaner. Exercise methods such as Pilates are excellent for learning how to make this muscle rock solid. Try a Pilates class or one of our GHU TV guided Pilates workouts.

But if an entire session isn’t for you, simply learn some of the exercises and tack them on to the end of your cardio or strength workouts. Another tried and true way to strengthen your core is to become familiar with a plank! There are dozens of plank variations you can learn. They are all good. They are all valuable. Planks work.

Muffin Top Melter: HIIT-Style Workout

Now that you know the proper way to take on this muffin top of yours, how about trying a fun new workout we put together just for you!

This HIIT-style muffin top melter workout for beginners combines the high intensity cardio training we talked about with some real core exercises that will help you tone and tighten your tummy while blasting calories in between moves!

  • Block 1: CARDIO: 20 seconds per move, 10 seconds rest in between
  • Block 2: CORE: 20 seconds per move, 10 seconds rest in between
  • Block 3: CARDIO: 20 seconds per move, 10 seconds rest in between
  • Block 4: CORE: 20 seconds per move, 10 seconds rest in between

For descriptions of the exercises, click on the links beneath the graphics. Or click below to download a free, printable version of this muffin top workout!

Block 1: Cardio

Perform each move as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before going to the next move.

Get rid of your muffin top with this workout

  1. Knee Thrusts (Right side first time, Left side second time)
  2. Skaters
  3. Lateral Shuffle
  4. Plank Jacks

After 10 seconds repeat this block one more time then go to Block 2!

Block 2: Core

Perform each move as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before going to the next move.

Use these moves to tone your abs and get rid of that muffin top

  1. Sweeping Scissors
  2. Plank Side Lift and Lower
  3. In In Out Out Plank
  4. Bend Extend Ab Tuck

After 10 seconds repeat this block one more time then go to Block 3!

Block 3: Cardio

Perform each move as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before going to the next move.

Muffin top exercises

  1. Plank to Chair Squat
  2. Split Jumps
  3. Burpees
  4. Upper Cuts

After 10 seconds repeat this block one more time then go to Block 4!

Block 4: Core

Perform each move as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before going to the next move.

Use these moves to tone your body and melt your muffin top

  1. Side Plank Crunch (Right side first time, Left side second time)
  2. Bicycle
  3. Army Crawl Plank
  4. Oblique Crunch With Long Legs (Right side first time, Left side second time)

Quick Muffin Top Workout

If you don’t have time for an extensive workout, you can follow along with this quick video and start to lose the love handles!

Now you know all the tips and tricks to getting rid of that muffin top: eating right, strength training, cardio, and using moves specifically designed to target your core. Use our muffin top melter workouts (the HIIT-style muffin top melter and the quick 3-minute muffin top melter!) to sculpt your core as you burn off belly fat and work towards a healthier you.

READ THIS NEXT: The Ultimate HIIT Workout To Blast Belly Fat

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on April 11, 2019 at 4:58 AM Reply

I am 54 years old and go on a brisk walk uphill 4 to 5 days a week. I was always thin until I had kids. I cannot do sit-ups because of lower back issues. I am apple shape so I have been told after having biometrics testing. My downfall is that I do have a sweet tooth; however gave up soda about 15 years ago. I recently have been logging food through lose it app and finding that I am not craving sweets as much. I do want to lose my muffin top so I will try some of these tips. Yours truly

    on May 21, 2019 at 5:07 PM Reply

    Yay - way to go! It sounds like you are doing all of the right things towards living a healthy lifestyle. You are exercising and staying active as well as logging your food and paying attention to what you are putting in your body! These are all key components to living a healthy and happy life!! Congratulations and keep up the good work!

on July 20, 2018 at 11:40 PM Reply

Hi I’m about to turn 15 and I’ve had a big belly + muffin top for a while and I joined cross country running last year. Do you think if I kept with the running and joined Nordic cross county skiing in the winter, then track in the spring, would that help me lose that fat (along with a healthier diet) or should I also do the workout and you mentioned.

    on July 24, 2018 at 9:13 AM Reply

    Hi Jenna - when it comes to losing weight, there is no one right way to do it! So, like you mentioned, you're involved in great forms of exercise throughout the year and eating a healthy diet. This is the best way to approach losing weight and staying healthy. Hopefully these sports are something you can join as well. Of course incorporating other types of workouts can also challenge different muscled groups but your best bet is to stay active and eat well! It's frankly the best advice for all of us :)

on March 31, 2018 at 12:20 PM Reply

I’m 12 years old ( 5’1 and weight about 148 lbs) I work out at home and diet is ok but I would love to get rid of some weight and muffin top please help me

    on April 3, 2018 at 1:10 PM Reply

    Hi Alicia - I'm not sure how much of this article you read, but I'd encourage you to go back through it; this really is our best advice! If you have concerns about your weight, I'd encourage you to talk to an adult your trust or your doctor. They will be able to guide you through the best and safest ways to lose weight.

on February 25, 2018 at 11:04 PM Reply

I am a 15 year old girl and have a muffin too kind of badly which caused me to get stretch marks . (5’3 and 182 lbs) is there any way i could loose my muffin top in 20 days ?

    on February 26, 2018 at 4:31 PM Reply

    Hi Alisa - unfortunately, losing weight can take some time... however, you can definitely make progress and by working out and eating well, you might be able to notice a slight difference in 20 days. I'm not sure how much of this article you read, but I'd encourage you to go back through it; this really is our best advice! We all have our areas that we'd like to improve so you're not alone in wanting to lose the muffin top; I'd encourage you to just stay positive and continue trying to be healthy!

on January 7, 2018 at 7:35 AM Reply

Hi Chris, i am a 67 year old man with a 33 waist . I train 4 times a week for a 75 minutes each time. No cardio. I know my way around the gym and hit each body part twice a week. I would say my diet is excellent but not perfect. My problem is i can't lose my muffin top. PS. In the warm weather i either hike 8 miles or bike 14 on the weekends. Walter

    on January 19, 2018 at 3:21 PM Reply

    Hi Walter - first of all, it sounds like you're doing a great job taking care of your health! If you're still not seeing the results you want, I would add in some cardio both for your heart health and to help lose the muffin top. You can start light and then move up as you feel comfortable. You can also try to work one on one with a personal trainer where they could give you more specific instructions. Good luck!

on January 4, 2017 at 2:07 PM Reply

Great article! I have to agree that HIIT is the best way to lose weight. I'm a runner so I often combine HIIT with running and it works for me. I lost 10 pounds in 30 days and my core muscle has improved a lot.

on November 10, 2016 at 8:44 AM Reply

Looks good, and fun in a sick kind of way. What would a 70 year old woman do? Can't be on my knees, arthritis in hands prevents putting weight on them, like on the floor. What do you recommend for those of us older women who want to reduce our muffin tops? Feeling pretty out of shape right now.

    on November 23, 2016 at 10:15 AM Reply

    Hi Laurie - I would suggest a beginners pilates class - gentle yet effective core work. Look for a local beginners class or try our Pilates on www.Get . Movements are not jarring and a good pilates class teaches you technique and breathing to help with the mid section.

(This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)

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