The exercise 'better than steady-state cardio' for targetting visceral fat as it helps the body 'burn more calories at rest’

man running

Steady-state cardio may not burn the most belly fat

Solen Le Net

By Solen Le Net

Published: 08/04/2024

- 13:38

Updated: 10/04/2024

- 09:02

There may be better exercises than steady-state cardio for targeting belly fat, an expert has claimed

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to burning belly fat, but there may be a simple way to enhance weight loss around the abdomen, according to experts.

Hacking your metabolism with certain types of exercise could ensure the body continues burning calories while it’s at rest.

Ben Jenkins, an NASM-certified personal trainer, fitness expert, and senior editor of Powerlifting Technique says that HIIT exercises could boost fat loss in this area more effectively than other types of cardio.

“HIIT-style training that spikes your heart rate has been shown to burn more calories and better target visceral belly fat compared to steady-state cardio,” the expert explained.

standing on the scales

Choosing the right exercise will help the body shed weight while it's at rest


“Making sure to include big compound lifts like squats, deadlifts and overhead pressed can help build more metabolically active muscle that burns more calories at rest.”

Though HIIT may help target unwanted belly fat, the expert warned: “You can’t really spot reduce fat from specific areas. Your genetics pretty much determine where your body likes to store that extra padding."

The idea that HIIT-style training is most suitable for belly fat loss has been explored in various bodies of research.

A 2018 meta-analysis looking at 39 studies and more than 600 subjects discovered that HIIT training “significantly reduced total abdominal and visceral fat mass”.

This style of exercise is usually made up of several rounds that alternate between high-intensity movements followed by shorter periods of low-intensity movements.

Experts believe that fat loss related to HIIT may be due to a phenomenon known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, referring to the amount of oxygen a person’s body consumes while exercising.

“A moderate calorie deficit and mix of cardio and strength work will ultimately drive the results you want,” Jenkins added.

The expert continued: “So from a fat loss perspective, doing your steady-state cardio like walking, light cycling or rowing first thing can be ideal for tapping into fat metabolism.

“Then you can swing back in the evening to lift heavy and continue that calorie burn. But honestly, the timing isn’t everything - sticking a calorie deficit and progressive training plan is most important.”

What’s more, a person’s genetics determine where their body is most likely to store fat, so there is little that can be done to change this.


Man measuring his belly fat

HIIT exercise will help the body burn more calories at rest

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It comes as an expert recently spoke to GB News about some of the top dietary approaches to visceral fat loss, suggesting that protein-dense foods are pivotal.

Daniel Herman, NASM nutritionist, SAQ coach and founder, told GB News about some of the different sources of protein that will boost weight loss “without exercise”.

Daniel explained: “Protein has a high thermic effect compared to fats and carbohydrates, meaning your body burns more calories digesting and metabolising it.

“Aim to include lean sources of protein such as chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, legumes and low-fat dairy products in your meals.”

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