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10 Weighted Ab Exercises To Melt Belly Fat

Banish that stubborn belly fat once and for all with these trainer-approved core moves.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Building a solid core is fundamental to sculpting a trim and toned midsection. When it comes to core strength, weight ab exercises are among the most effective ways to blast away belly fat and add definition to your stomach. But don't just take our word for it. We spoke with Tracie Haines-Landram, CSCS, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and nutrition coach with Barbend, who dishes out the 10 best weighted ab exercises for belly fat, leaving behind a flatter, healthier waistline.

Luckily, you don't need to resort to endless crunches to achieve your dream abs. Instead, incorporating these weighted ab exercises into your weekly workout routine will help build a strong, developed core without spending hours in the gym or starving yourself with restrictive diets.

However, before diving into the exercises, we'd be remiss if we didn't share a few essential pointers. First and foremost, maintain proper form throughout each movement. Second, be sure to stay well hydrated and drink plenty of water (with electrolytes) before exercising. And lastly, eat a protein-rich, well-balanced diet without going overboard on calories if your goal is to shrink your waistline and sculpt washboard abs.

"The appearance of a protruding belly may be from poor posture and a lack of core muscle stability," Haines-Landram explains. "Focus on various core exercises that target the abdomen and back muscles. To get the most bang for your buck, incorporate weighted ab exercises to engage more muscle activation. While we can't spot-reduce to target fat loss from a specific body area like the belly, we can reduce overall body fat and maintain a healthy body composition through nutrition and exercise."

Read on to discover the 10 best weight ab exercises for belly fat, according to Haines-Landram. And when you're done, don't miss these 10 Beginner Exercises to Melt Love Handles.

Overhead Squats

overhead squats

Mastering this compound movement will help blast away belly fat by challenging your balance and stability—two fundamental components of core strength and sculpted abs.

"Overhead squats are traditionally performed with a barbell held straight overhead with the arms locked out, hands placed wide outside of shoulder width," says Haines-Landram. "While overhead squats are one of the most technical strength movements that require a proper range of motion throughout the body, the payoff is in core muscle activation." Complete three sets of eight to 12 reps to start. However, form and technique should be your primary focus here.

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Single-Arm Overhead Press

single-arm overhead dumbbell press

The effort required to stabilize your body during this movement activates the muscles in your midsection to help tone and tighten your midsection.

To perform a single-arm overhead press, Haines-Landram tells us, "Stand in a neutral position with a dumbbell or kettlebell in one arm at shoulder level. Press the weight above your head as you extend your arm straight and lower your shoulder back down. For optimal ab activation, keep your core engaged and avoid swaying from side to side." Aim for three sets of eight to 12 reps per arm.

Waiter's Carry

"A waiter's carry involves carrying a weight overhead in one arm while walking a certain distance," Haines-Landram explains. "Core activation is similar to an overhead squat. However, instead of the feet being stationary, an additional challenge is created when moving the body horizontally across a distance."

Before performing this exercise, set a distance between 15 to 20 meters. Pick up weight with one arm, and stabilize it over your head. Then, walk from one end to the other in a controlled manner while ensuring the weight isn't pulling you forward. On the other side, switch arms and walk back. Repeat this for three to five rounds.

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Weighted Planks

This plank variation turns the classic core exercise to the next level.

"Planks are a popular and effective exercise for strengthening the core muscles," says Haines-Landram. "They create a static contraction of the ab muscles, meaning the muscles are engaged but not actively moving through a range of motion. A plank can be done by holding your body static in a pushup position with your arms locked straight or forearms resting on the ground. To add weight, either wear a weighted vest or have a partner place a weight plate on your mid-back while in a plank position." Hold your plank in a static position for 30 to 45 seconds, and repeat three to five times.

Plank + Renegade Row

dumbbell renegade row

This compound movement engages multiple muscle groups, including your core, helping to strengthen and define your midsection while shedding stubborn belly fat.

Haines-Landram says, "Start in a plank position with your grip on a pair of dumbbells and arms straight. Perform a single arm row, and slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. Then, row with the other side, alternating back and forth. The goal is to keep your core straight and resist shifting your weight from side to side as much as possible." Perform three sets of 16 to 20 alternating rows total (eight to ten per side).

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Weighted Leg Raises

Leg raises are a killer lower ab exercise, and adding weights makes them even more effective for firming up your lower belly and promoting belly fat loss. You can perform this exercise from a pull-up bar or captain's chair.

"Hang [onto] a pull-up bar with your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull back on the bar while leaning your body slightly backward, and squeeze your abdominal muscles to raise your legs upwards," instructs Haines-Landram. "Keeping your legs straight, continue raising them until they're parallel to the ground. Then, slowly lower your legs in a controlled motion back to the starting position." Use weighted ankle cuffs or a dumbbell between your feet to add weight. Aim for three sets of eight to 12 reps.

Weighted Rotations

This exercise targets your obliques (side abdominal muscles) to help build a sculpted and well-balanced abdominal region.

"Rotational exercises can be performed while standing and using an external load such as a barbell anchored with a landmine attachment," explains Haines-Landram. "Rotations can also be completed by using a cable machine with the cable height at the midline of your abdomen or attaching a resistance band to a pole. Your arms should become a static extension of your body to hold onto the bar or band, and all movement to rotate the body should come from the core." Complete three sets of eight to 12 reps per side.

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Cable Crunches

Next up are cable crunches, a solid core exercise that works your upper and lower abs for a tight and toned midsection.

"Attach a rope handle to the high pulley. Kneel facing the machine, grab the handles with your hands beside your head, and crunch your upper body toward your knees, engaging your abs," says Haines-landram. Do three sets of eight to 10 reps.

Weighted Ball Slams

illustration of medicine ball slams

The explosive nature of this exercise will elevate your heart rate, helping torch more calories and melt away belly fat to achieve a more sculpted abdomen.

"Start in a neutral position holding a medicine ball or wall ball in both hands," says Haines-Landram. "Lift the ball overhead, fully extending your body. Engage your core and forcefully slam the ball into the ground in front of you. Catch or pick up the ball and bring it back overhead." Perform three sets of 10 to 15 reps.


Last but not least, halos engage your entire core as you move the weight in a circular motion around your head. Using a kettlebell or weight plate, this exercise challenges your core stability and enhances ab definition.

"Start in a standing neutral position with both hands holding a single dumbbell or weight plate at chest level with arms bent, like you are holding a steering wheel. Keeping both arms bent and your core as straight as possible, slowly circle the weight around your head and back to the starting position," says Haines-Landram. Circle the weight five or six times clockwise, then five or six times counterclockwise. Repeat this three times.

Adam Meyer, RHN
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam