Lose belly fat fast by doing strength training and high-intensity sprint intervals. Research shows that the best way to decrease visceral belly fat is to train hard with a high intensity and relatively large volume. However, this doesn’t mean you have to spend hours and hours a day killing yourself in the gym. A few hours a week total can produce dramatic fat loss—this tip will tell you how to do it.
A recent study in the Journal of Obesity showed that a 12-week high-intensity interval training program produced a 17 percent decrease in visceral belly fat in overweight young men (average age of 24). Participants performed three 20-minute cycling sessions a week in which they sprinted for 8 seconds and then did 12 seconds of recovery, repeating these intervals for a total of 60 sprints.
They lost 1.5 kg of fat from the trunk area, 2 kg of total fat, and also gained 1 kg of muscle, while increasing the use of fat for fuel by the body. There was a 13 percent increase in fat burning and a similar decrease in the use of carbohydrates for energy, which is a favorable metabolic environment for fat loss and the maintenance of body composition.
This study supports previous data from the same research group that showed that the same sprint training program produced 2.5 kg of fat loss in young women in 15 weeks. Researchers write that high-intensity training is overwhelmingly preferable to aerobic exercise for producing fat loss, especially belly fat loss, and that the estimated optimal dose of aerobic exercise necessary to significantly reduce visceral fat is 3,780 calories expended per week. This would require one hour of moderate intensity aerobic cycling daily to burn 550 calories a day so that you could lose even a pound a week.
The reason sprints are preferable for fat loss is that an intensity “threshold” is reached that increases the body’s production of fat burning hormones such as growth hormone. Sprint intervals also enhance insulin sensitivity, allowing the body to use energy better and manage blood sugar.
Combine sprint training with strength training for the greatest fat loss results. The key is that you need to lift at a fairly high intensity with a large volume. This is one reason for the misperception that aerobic training is better for visceral belly fat loss than anaerobic training modes like resistance exercise. A recent analysis in Obesity Reviews showed little benefit to resistance training for belly fat loss, but that is because all the studies that were analyzed used training programs with isolation exercises performed on machines at moderate intensities with relatively low volume.
You will get results from a resistance training program that includes the following components:
• Multi-joint lifts such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, split squats, step-ups, chin-ups, and chest presses in every training session. Add isolation exercises only if you have extra time.
• Train with a higher volume—work up to more than 4 sets per exercise. Shoot for 24 to 32 total sets per training session.
• Train with a higher intensity—include some training in the 70 to 85 percent of the 1RM range.
• Count tempo for every lift so that you apply a specific amount of tension to the muscles. In general, opt for longer (4 second) eccentric tempos and short or explosive concentric tempos.
• Shoot for 3 to 4 hours of total training time per week, which includes resistance training and a few short sprint sessions.
Strasser, B., Arvandi, M., et al. Resistance training, Visceral Obesity and Inflammatory Response: A Review of the Evidence. Obesity Reviews. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.
Ismail, I., Keating, S., et al. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Aerobic Vs. Resistance Exercise Training on Visceral Fat. Obesity Reviews. 2012. 13, 68-91.
Heydari, M., Freud, J., et al. The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males. Journal of Obesity. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.