High intensity exercise is best for losing belly fat

Yes, my boot campers hear this from me all the time. But, hey, don’t just take it from me!  

A recent study published by the University of Virginia confirms that, although ANY type of exercise is beneficial to our health, high-intensity exercise is necessary to achieve significant body fat loss.

The study involved 27 middle-aged obese women randomized into one of 3 groups:  One group didn’t do any exercise, one group performed low-intensity exercise 5 days per week, and one group performed low intensity exercise 2 days a week and high-intensity exercise 3 days a week .  The study didn’t involve any type of dietary intervention.  

The high-intensity group reduced total abdominal fat, subcutaneous (under the skin) abdominal fat and visceral fat (fat surrounding internal abdominal organs) more than low intensity group–and of course way more than the control group who did not exercise.

Aside from the aesthetic benefits of narrowing our waistlines, there are serious health benefits to be had here!  “For obese women entering the middle and later stages of life, reducing internal abdominal fat or preventing too much of it forming is crucial”, says Dr. Arthur Weltman, the lead scientist in the study.  Excessive amounts of abdominal fat are associated with the development of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

This was a small study done only on women, but it’s not the first of it’s kind.  Other researchers have found similar results in both male and female populations.  And, a big gut is just as dangerous for the guys as it is for gals.

Now, if you’re new to exercise you must work up to higher intensities.  Starting out too hard too soon can bring a well-intentioned exercise program to a screeching halt!  Build up slowly and consistently to higher intensity exercise. One way to do this is through interval training which employs short bouts of hard exercise followed by recovery exercise.

The moral of today’s story:  If you want to lose belly fat, increase your exercise intensity instead of adding more crunches to your workout!

Make it a great day,


In case you want to read the study yourself:

Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 40(11):1863-1872, November 2008.