Potbelly. Beer belly. Spare tire. Whatever you call it, chances are you or someone you know struggles with extra weight around the stomach.
For years, medical and fitness experts have gone back and forth debating on the best exercise to lose weight that has a tendency to cling to the stomach. So, when it comes down to cardio vs. weight training, which one’s the real MVP?
Whether you are looking to shed the "Covid 19" or need to drop some pounds for health reasons, that belly fat can be stubborn to get rid of.
We put together this guide to help you on your quest to go from "dad bod" to "Jason Momoa.”
What is belly fat?
As obvious as it may sound, belly fat is just that; fat around the stomach. However, understanding how and why men typically gain extra weight in their abdomen can help you know the right way to lose it.
Causes of belly fat in men
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but men have a higher tendency to accumulate visceral fat, fat that wraps around your abdominal organs, than women.
Men will often see an increase in belly fat due to consumption of a combination of high sugar foods and beverages, alcohol drinks (like all those beers during Sunday football), and insufficient fiber and protein intake.
With all this being said, where your body stores fat can also depend on genes, hormones, stress level, and diet and exercise habits.
What is cardio exercise?
Cardio training is any exercise that gets your blood pumping, heart racing, and breathing like you just ran a marathon.
While the first thing that may come to mind when we say cardio exercise is running and biking, there are actually several options. From indoor cycling and swimming to HITT training, jump rope, and organized sports, the world is your oyster when it comes to cardio training.
Benefits of cardio exercise
Cardio helps improve the overall health and function of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system. It also has a ton of physical, mental, and emotional benefits, such as:
- boosting the immune system
- improving sleep health
- supporting mental health
- regulating blood sugar
- contributing to weight loss/achieving a healthy weight
- enhancing memory and brain performance
What is weight training?
Weight training uses weights for resistance to cause stress to the muscles that force them to adjust and become stronger.
There are a few ways to incorporate this strength exercise into your fitness routine. You can pump iron using a weight machine or use free weights, like barbells, kettlebells, and dumbbells.
Pro tip: If you really are feeling up to it, you can even use a tire as a free weight!
Weight training doesn't just mean lifting weights in continuous reps. Resistance exercises involving resistance bands or your own body weight can also increase your strength.
Benefits of weight training
When it comes to weight lifting and strength training, don't be surprised to find improvements in the following areas:
- Testosterone production- This hormone is responsible for things like your libido, fat distribution, bone, and muscle mass.
- Physical performance- in and out of the bedroom
- Quality of sleep- snooze better and longer
- Mental health- reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
- Self-Confidence- this one needs no explanation…
- Healthier genes- Not to get all scientific, but some studies suggest that muscular men have healthier sperm and are more fertile than skinny or overweight men.
- Overall health improvement - bone density, balance, lowering the risk of stroke, lowering blood pressure, strengthening the heart, and reducing chances of developing diabetes and cancer.
What exercises should I do to lose belly fat?
Spoiler alert....you can't spot reduce belly fat, even if you did 500 crunches a day. It takes a combination of diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
But back to the original question.
The short answer
Simply put, you need both cardio AND weight training.
The long answer
Mixing cardio and weights into your workout routine will help decrease that stubborn fat. However, it may involve some modifications on your end.
Start by upping the intensity of your cardio workouts. (Sorry, those after-dinner walks aren't going to cut it.) Instead, think HITT training and long cycling classes. The goal is to boost your metabolism.
Increased metabolic rate = more burned fat
Balancing your high-intensity cardio workouts with strength training helps build muscle and burn fats.
Let us let you in on a bit of a secret; muscle burns more calories than fat. That's because muscle is metabolically more active, continuing to burn even at rest.
In addition, you will find many weight training exercises engage and strengthen the core, increasing muscle tone in the midsection.
What else should I know about losing belly fat?
Exercise alone won't get rid of belly fat. The reality is that if you want to battle the bulge, you're going to need to make some adjustments to your lifestyle as well. That includes things like:
- Saying goodbye to sugary drinks and hello to water
- Cutting back on alcoholic drinks, especially beer
- Eating more protein and less trans-fat and refined carbs
- Incorporating more "natural" foods into your diet
- Learning ways to get a handle on stress
- Focusing on your sleep health
Our goal at BeachSweat is to help you get healthier and stronger on your weight loss journey with visual inspiration.
With various indoor cycling, strength training, and HITT training classes, we can promise you won't get bored.
Ready to find the motivation to a healthier, happier you and say goodbye to belly fat? Try out one of our indoor cycling classes now with a free trial!