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The Worst Exercise Mistakes When You're Trying To Burn Belly Fat, Trainer Says

Quit these bad habits ASAP.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

A majority of my clients have one goal in mind: to burn belly fat. When we do the initial consultation, I usually ask them what their current fitness routine is, how long they've been doing it, and what results they've achieved so far. I notice a lot of common exercise mistakes that hinder their progress.

If you've been exercising for a while now, and you're not seeing any noticeable changes to your belly, I'm here to help. These are the worst mistakes you can make when you're trying to burn belly fat. Read on to learn more, and next, check out The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.

You're only performing sit-ups and crunches


If your goal is to burn belly fat, only performing sit-ups and crunches will not help you achieve it. Although you may feel like your abs are working and burning, this limited routine is not going to give you the results you want. Of course, there's nothing wrong with these exercises, but the primary function of your abs is to stabilize the spine and transfer power. When training your core, you should do so with the intention of trying to make it stronger to protect your back and improve the performance of your compound exercises, which require core strength.

You're focusing on cardio over strength training

athletic man running outside city

Another common exercise error people make is believing running or only performing cardio will help burn belly fat. Although cardio is really important for heart health, improving your endurance, and burning calories, it's not as effective as strength training.

Strength training helps build and maintain your muscle mass, which will elevate your metabolism. If done right, an intense weight training session can also burn more calories than cardio, due to the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect. If you want to burn belly fat, you should be doing strength training at least 2 to 3 times per week, focusing on compound exercises (ones that involve more than one muscle group).

Related: The 3 Best Strength Training Exercises To Shrink Belly Fat Fast, Trainer Says

You're only using light weights and high reps when strength training

walking lunges with dumbbells to sculpt glutes

If you are strength training, avoid the mistake of only using light weights and higher reps. This is a fitness myth that won't go away. Even though you might feel the burn using lighter weights and higher reps, they won't help you shrink belly fat. This is because you need enough resistance to force your muscles to work harder.

Also, if you're constantly lifting the same amount of weight and reps, your body adapts, which makes it harder for you to progress. Instead, choose a weight that's challenging (but safe), and focus on lifting heavier, if you are able to physically do so.

Related: Secret Exercise Tricks To Shrink Abdominal Fat Fast, Trainer Says

Your main focus is calorie burn


People are obsessed with how many calories their favorite fitness class, workout, or activity burned. ​The issue with this mentality is there can be a major margin of error. In addition, people psychologically think because they burned a certain amount of calories, they can eat them all back, but that's not how it works—especially if you're overestimating your activity. In order to lose fat, stick to your calorie deficit no matter how many cals you think you burned during a sweat session.

Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.
Tim Liu, CSCS, is an online fitness and nutrition coach based in Los Angeles Read more about Tim
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