Do These 7 Exercises Everyday To Get Rid Of Muffin Top Belly

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Medically reviewed by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

Muffin Top Belly Exercises

Is there anything more depressing in life than trying on your favorite pair of jeans, only to be foiled by a couple of pounds of extra belly fat?

These things sneak up on us sometimes. When it’s time for a change, there is no better approach than attacking your muffin top belly with everything you’ve got – cardio, weight lifting, and high-intensity interval training.

What are the best exercises for belly fat? There are many worthwhile options at your disposal, and all of them can be done at home for free:

  • Side Planks
  • Crunches
  • Russian Twists
  • Burpees
  • Bird Dog
  • Leg Lifts
  • Cardio

What Causes a Muffin Top Belly?

Aside from the obvious (that is, consuming more calories than you expend daily[1]), there are several factors that may make some people store fat more easily than others:

There are plenty of healthy daily habits that you can adopt in order to combat all of these stressors and obstacles. Aside from committing to a healthier lifestyle, though, what else can you do?

The Best Muffin Top Belly Exercises

Aside from the above-mentioned lifestyle changes[4], you can also try doubling your effort by choosing the best exercises for the belly, flanks, and love handles.

All of the following can be performed with weights or as part of a high-intensity interval training regimen. You can customize each move to match your own fitness level and goals.

Side Planks

Side Planks

Planks will not only help you firm up your core muscles themselves – but they’re also great for burning the belly fat[5] that obscures your washboard. They’re some of the best exercises to get rid of belly fat and one really effective way to lose weight fast.

For love handles and muffin tops, side planks rule above all others. They’re sort of like crunches, only for your sides – a definite problem area for many of us.

How to Do It

  1. From a plank position, push yourself up so that only one hand is pressed into the ground.
  2. With your core engaged, lengthen the entire body, reaching up toward your outstretched fingertips.
  3. Hold for ten seconds.
  4. Release to your starting plank position.
  5. Repeat on the other side. Alternate until exhausted.

Common Mistakes

When you do a plank, you should feel it throughout your core. If you don’t, your bottom might be too high in the air. 

If you can, try to perfect your form with the help of a mirror. Your entire body should be straight, from your shoulders to your lower extremities. Your shoulders shouldn’t sink and your legs should be totally straight.

Tips and Tricks

You can shake up your plank routine by adding in a leg lift or an elbow crunch. Side plank rotations include a tuck under with each rep, drawing the free shoulder around and underneath the body. 

A forearm side plank is another option; doing a forearm side plank is one of the fastest ways to achieve a flat stomach and stone-hewn oblique muscles. It’s much more effective than a standard plank.

Crunches

Crunches

For most, this will be the obvious one. The mechanism of action is self-explanatory – the abdominal muscles contract, and, with each rep, they grow stronger. Crunches have been shown to be especially effective[6] when performed as part of an exercise circuit.

How to Do It

  1. Lie back on the ground with your feet flat on the floor in front of you, knees bent. The arms should be crossed in front of the chest.
  2. With your abs tight, drawing your chest in toward your knees.
  3. Hold for one count, abs tightened, and release. 
  4. Repeat as desired.

Common Mistakes

Some of us put a lot of the work into our necks when doing crunches, but this is actually the worst thing that you can do if you’re trying to target your belly. 

Your chin shouldn’t be too high up in the air, and it also shouldn’t be buried in your chest. A happy medium might be pretending to make a “double chin” – this will usually be a good ballpark to strive for if you’re worried about straining your neck or spine.

Also important: your lower back should not leave the floor. Make an effort to focus on pressing it down in order to keep your core muscles fully engaged. You can also ask a friend to spot you as you work out, taking turns between sets.

Tips and Tricks

Bicycle crunches are the best variation that we can recommend for muffin tops – they get your whole body working, activating all of the relevant abdominal muscle groups underneath.

Russian Twists

Russian Twists

Russian twists help you amplify your belly-targeting efforts. These exercises are able to address parts of the spare tire that sit-ups and crunches alone will never end up reaching.

How to Do It

  1. Sit up on the ground with your feet in front of you, knees bent. You should feel your glutes pressing into the ground.
  2. Without letting your upper body drop, sit back slightly with yourback completely straight. Your body should look like the letter “V”.
  3. Clasp your hands in front of you or cross them over your chest.
  4. Twist completely to one side.
  5. Hold for one count.
  6. Twist back into your starting position.
  7. Repeat on the other side. Continue as necessary.

Common Mistakes

The golden rule of Russian twists: you never want to be moving too quickly. The more slowly and methodically you’re able to perform each rep, the more you’re going to feel it in your muffin top. Focus on the action of the arms and avoid torquing your lower back.

To achieve good form, your back should never be bent or arching. You should be erect from the waist up, without hunching forward or letting your head fall behind you.

Tips and Tricks

You can do a kick or a punching motion to the side after every twist, sort of like a kickboxing exercise. Another excellent variation is incorporating a medicine ball into your Russian twist routine, holding it in front of you and passing it over your body from side to side.

You can also add a bench element to these hip twists. This variation will confer some of the same benefits that hip dips do, which is another of our favorite exercises to get rid of muffin tops and love handles.

Burpees

Burpees

Burpees are sort of like planks on steroids after a good meal – they’re some of the most punishing muffin top exercises that you can choose from. If you’re able to master them and incorporate them into your workout routine, you can go ahead and kiss your muffin top goodbye.  Losing weight with burpees is easy.

How to Do It

  1. Start from a squatting position.
  2. Press your hands down into the floor in front of you.
  3. Hop both feet back, assuming a plank position.
  4. Do a single push-up.
  5. Frog-kick your legs back so that you’re squatting once more.
  6. Quickly jump straight up, with your arms straight overhead.
  7. Land nimbly back into your first position, squatting again.
  8. Repeat as many times as you want.

Common Mistakes

As with many of these Pilates-style exercises, slow and steady wins the race. Rushing through a set of burpees doesn’t do you any favors; the easier they feel, the less they’re doing for you and your body.

Try not to land too hard on your heels; the way that your hands and feet make contact with the ground is very important if you want to avoid injuring yourself. Good form is everything; you’ll know the difference as soon as you nail it.

Tips and Tricks

Some people like to use a platform. Others like burpees with Bosu balls or dumbbells. Our advice is to work on performing an ordinary burpee perfectly before adding any toys – it’s a full-body workout, and taking things too fast might result in injury. 

Bird Dog

Bird Dog

This move looks and feels a lot like yoga, but it packs a punch. It’s not only awesome for muffin tops and love handles – this move will burn calories like no tomorrow. Plus, your booty will be feeling the love, too. 

How to Do It

  1. Begin in a table position – kneeling, legs at ninety degrees, with your back straight and your hands on the ground in front of you. 
  2. Breathe in.
  3. Lift your right arm and your left leg so that both extend straight out from the front and the back of your body. Your hand, straight overhead, should be in a straight line with your torso and totally parallel to the ground.
  4. Bring your arm and leg back in slowly and replace your hand and your foot on the ground, breathing out.
  5. Repeat with your left arm and your right leg.
  6. Continue for several sets. 

Common Mistakes

Bird dogs are at their best when done purposefully and mindfully. Like many other bodyweight exercise moves, you’ll get the most out of your workout routine when you follow the proper form and your breathing is consistent and deliberate. Move slowly and lean into the burn.

Tips and Tricks

Adding a crunch in with both the active arm and leg before releasing them is one way to ramp up a round of bird dogs. You can also try a standing bird dog once your balance has improved sufficiently.

Leg Lifts

Leg Lifts

Most assume that leg lifts have nothing to do with anything but the legs. These people would be mistaken – they’re much closer to a sit-up that you do with your lower body instead of your upper body. It’s another of our favorite exercises to get rid of muffin tops.

How to Do It

  1. Lie on your back with your legs extended, crossed at the ankles.
  2. Put your hands behind your head or cross your wrists in front of your chest.
  3. Lift your legs so that your feet are hovering a few inches above the ground
  4. Slowly lift the legs to ninety degrees, without letting them bend or lifting your lower back from the ground.
  5. Carefully lower them without letting your heels touch the floor. Continue to pump them slowly, holding for one count at each extreme.

Common Mistakes

The number one mistake that people make when doing leg lifts is letting the legs bend at the knees. You want all of that tension in your abdominal muscles – if you can’t feel it, it isn’t working. 

You also want to ensure that your legs are never coming apart from one another. Instead, they should be moving as one unit. Again, the slower and more dedicated each lift is, the better you’re going to look and feel afterward.

Tips and Tricks

Instead of lifting with your ankles crossed, you can “butterfly” your feet, fluttering them back and forth over one another. This will create an even more intense workout.

Cardio

Cardio

Yes, it’s true – body fat stands no chance against a vigorous cardio routine. The type of cardio that you choose is less important[7] than the amount of cardio that you’re able to commit to on a daily or weekly basis.

Some of the best forms of cardio for excess fat include:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Jumping rope
  • High-intensity interval training
  • Running, jogging, and walking
  • Swimming
  • Rowing
  • Cycling

No matter what type of life you live, there is always room for a short walk or jaunt in the afternoon. We encourage you to pick up any of these fat-burning hobbies in order to make fitness a permanent part of your life. 

Once you start to develop a taste for how living in this way feels, there will be no stopping you. You’ll be happy, healthy, and lean for life.


+ 7 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Raynor, H.A. and Champagne, C.M. (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Interventions for the Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(1), pp.129–147.
  2. Geiker, N.R.W., Astrup, A., Hjorth, M.F., Sjödin, A., Pijls, L. and Markus, C.R. (2017). Does stress influence sleep patterns, food intake, weight gain, abdominal obesity and weight loss interventions and vice versa? Obesity Reviews, [online] 19(1), pp.81–97. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28849612/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].
  3. ‌Ma, J., Sloan, M., Fox, C.S., Hoffmann, U., Smith, C.E., Saltzman, E., Rogers, G.T., Jacques, P.F. and McKeown, N.M. (2014). Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Is Associated with Abdominal Fat Partitioning in Healthy Adults. The Journal of Nutrition, [online] 144(8), pp.1283–1290. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4093984/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].
  4. ‌Xenaki, N., Bacopoulou, F., Kokkinos, A., Nicolaides, N.C., Chrousos, G.P. and Darviri, C. (2018). Impact of a stress management program on weight loss, mental health and lifestyle in adults with obesity: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of molecular biochemistry, [online] 7(2), pp.78–84. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6296480/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].
  5. ‌Olson, M. (2013). CORE STRENGTH. ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal, [online] 17(4), pp.8–15. Available at: https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/fulltext/2013/07000/CORE_STRENGTH__The__Anatomy__of_Investigating.5.aspx [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].
  6. ‌Whitehurst, M.A., Johnson, B.L., Parker, C.M., Brown, L.E. and Ford, A.M. (2005). The Benefits of a Functional Exercise Circuit for Older Adults. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19(3), p.647.
  7. ‌American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. (2020). Effects of aerobic vs. resistance training on visceral and liver fat stores, liver enzymes, and insulin resistance by HOMA in overweight adults from STRRIDE AT/RT | American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. [online] Available at: https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpendo.00291.2011 [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].

Medically reviewed by:

Emma Garofalo is a writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. A lover of science, art, and all things culinary, few things excite her more than the opportunity to learn about something new." It is now in the sheet in the onboarding paperwork, apologies!!

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