The Best Exercise Machines to Lose Belly Fat

Young man in sportswear running on treadmill at gym
Cardio is king when it comes to losing belly fat. (Image: Mina3686/iStock/Getty Images)

Belly fat expands your waistline and makes you feel self conscious about your appearance. But it's also an especially dangerous type of fat that can raise your risk of disease.

Exercise is one of the best ways to stop this middle spread, but with such an array of options, it's hard to know where to start. The best machines to lose belly fat aren't the ab rockers, rollers or coasters. You're more likely to lose belly fat by regularly using the treadmill and resistance machines at the gym.

Cardio Machines First

Increased calorie-burning physical activity, such as jogging on a treadmill or pedaling an elliptical, will help prompt belly fat loss. Some of the first fat you lose when you exercise is dangerous visceral fat, but subcutaneous fat will reduce too, with time.

Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity work on a cardio machine of your choice most days to help start the process of losing fat, including at your belly. Cardio machines also facilitate high-intensity interval training, which is especially beneficial to fat loss, especially visceral fat.

HIIT involves alternating very challenging bursts of exercise with more moderate activity. For example, you could warm up for five minutes on an elliptical machine at a low level. Then alternate 60 seconds of the highest level you can sustain with 60 seconds at the low level. Do 10 total repetitions and cool down for an effective fat-burning workout.

Vary the machine you use every few weeks to keep your body challenged and your workouts interesting. Examples of effective machines:

  • Treadmill
  • Elliptical trainer
  • Indoor cycle
  • Ergometer/rowing machine
  • Step mill

Skip the Ab Machines

Typical abdominal machines don't really provide the intensity necessary to challenge your body to burn your fat stores. The machines are designed to help you create stronger ab muscles, but not to reduce fat from the belly area.

These machines usually come with workout recommendations that include cardio and total-body strength training as well as a nutrition guide. These measures are what help you lose belly fat, not the ab machine.

Instead of investing in an ab-specific machine, which may be no more effective than the traditional crunch, according to 2014 research published by the American Council on Exercise, spend your dollars on a health club membership or a home gym.

Researchers concluded that these machines aren't worth your time — you can get the same abdominal results by doing crunches and planks at home for free.

Fit woman doing squats with the barbell Smith machine in the gym
Building muscle helps you burn more calories all day long. (Image: undrey/iStock/Getty Images)

Resistance Training Machines for Fat Loss

Regularly training all the major muscles with resistance machines stimulates fat-burning hormones and helps you develop a greater proportion of lean tissue. Lean tissue burns more calories at rest and contributes to a stronger burning metabolism — meaning it's easier to lose weight in your middle and elsewhere.

It may seem counterintuitive as these machines don't directly target your trouble area, but getting rid of belly fat requires effort from your whole body. The major resistance machines to hit are:

  • Lat pull down
  • Chest press
  • Leg press
  • Shoulder press
  • Biceps curl
  • Triceps extension
  • Leg curl

Finish a strength-training workout with a variety of ab-strengthening and core moves, such as planks, crunches, trunk rotations and back extensions, in your ab workouts.

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