The Best Exercises to Do Before Bed to Help Burn Belly Fat

With constantly overflowing to-do lists, some days it can feel impossible to squeeze in a workout until late in the evening. Luckily, you can rest assured (pun intended) that working out a few hours before bedtime can torch calories and likely won't affect your sleep too much (just don't do it right before hopping in bed).

If you can't squeeze in a workout session during the daytime, exercising before bed can help promote good sleep and burn fat. (Image: Westend61/Westend61/GettyImages)

If you're looking to break a sweat before bed, certified personal trainer SJ McShane has some quick exercises for you to try right at home. This sequence will bring your heart rate up with some high-intensity moves, followed by some more calming moves to help you de-stress before bed. (Bonus: Increasing sleep and decreasing stress are both helpful when you're trying to reduce belly fat.)

Exercising Before Bed to Burn Fat

While you can't spot reduce belly fat, incorporating some exercise before hitting the hay can help reduce body fat all over. Not only can your workout torch calories but may also improve your sleep, which can lead speed and promote further fat loss. Although diet and exercise are the keys behind losing weight, your sleep plays a big role in helping regulate body weight, according to the American Council on Science and Health.

Not only does sleep affect your total weight but also your body fat percentage, according to a February 2018 study published in Sleep. In the small eight-week study, individuals were assigned a 1,450 calorie diet (down 325 calories from their usual). While all 36 participants lost about seven pounds each, those that got more sleep lost more fat, while those that got less sleep lost more muscle.

While it's not usually recommended to exercise at night (as the increased energy may keep you awake), a February 2019 meta-analysis published in Sports Medicine suggests that the opposite may be true. After reviewing 23 different studies, researchers found that there's no hard evidence to suggest that evening exercise negatively affects sleep.

In fact, the researchers found that evening exercise may increase rapid eye movement (REM), the deepest and final sleep cycle, according to the National Sleep Foundation. However, you'll want to avoid exercise less than an hour before bedtime.

Best Exercises to Do Before Bed

If you're looking to burn some fat and improve your sleep, try this quick HIIT workout before you power down for the night. It starts off with some high-intensity moves and transitions to lower-impact ones to help you nod off later, says McShane.

1. Lunge Jump

  1. Stand with feet hips-distance apart.
  2. Bringing one foot forward, bend at the knee, lowering until the opposite knee hovers slightly above the ground.
  3. Using your arms to gain momentum, jump up into the air and switch legs before landing.
  4. As you land, your opposite leg should be in front.

Reps: Do as many reps as possible for 60 seconds. Rest for a minute and perform for three rounds.

2. Jump Squat

  1. Stand with your legs about shoulder-distance apart.
  2. Hinge at your hips and lower into a squat as if sitting into a chair.
  3. Keep your head up, chest out and shoulders back.
  4. Using your arms to gain momentum, jump up as high as you can.
  5. Land back into a squat and repeat, rebounding quickly.

Reps: Do as many reps as possible for 60 seconds. Rest for a minute and perform for three rounds.

3. Body-Weight Squat

  1. Stand with your legs hip-width apart and toes pointed toward the wall in front.
  2. Stretch your arms at shoulder length in front of your body.
  3. Take a deep breath in and squat with your back straight till your thigh bone is parallel to the floor.
  4. Exhale and reverse the motion, coming back to standing.

Reps: 15

4. Stationary Lunge

  1. Stand straight with arms on your sides parallel to the shoulders.
  2. Keeping the back straight, bring your tight leg forward and bend at the knee.
  3. The target is to have the knees and toes parallel.
  4. Hold the position for 5 seconds and slowly stand back straight, bringing the legs back together.

Reps: 15 on each leg

5. Plank

  1. Plant hands directly under shoulders slightly wider than shoulder width.
  2. Ground toes into the floor and squeeze glutes to stabilize your body. Your legs should be working, too — be careful not to lock or hyperextend your knees.
  3. Keep your neck and spine in neutral alignment by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond your hands. Your head should be in line with your back.

Reps: Hold for 20 seconds.

End With Some Stretches to De-Stress

As with any workout, after you get your heart rate up, it's important to cool down and let your body slowly come back down to a resting state. You might want to walk around for a bit until your heart rate comes down, then do some of these stretches. Focus on deep breathing in and out through your nose, holding each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

1. Seated Forward Fold

  1. Sit with your legs extended straight out in front of you.
  2. Reach for your toes (or ankles or shins) to stretch the back of your legs.

2. Eye of the Needle

  1. Lie on your back and cross your right ankle on top of your left knee/thigh.
  2. Grab your left thigh and pull it toward your chest.
  3. Remember to do both sides.

3. Child's Pose

  1. From all fours, shift your weight back so that your butt rests on top of the bottoms of your feet.
  2. Reach your arms out in front of you and press your chest toward the ground.
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