The most superior way to burn belly fat is through anaerobic high-intensity training (HIT). HIT consists of short and intense bouts of muscular contractions. HIT must be performed at a semi-large volume. However, the volume of work needed for HIT is significantly less and far more effective than aerobic exercise.
Anaerobic interval training forces your body to burn fat in order to sustain high levels of intense training. This metabolic adaptation, along with an extended energy burn 24 hours plus post-workout (i.e. EPOC, which we will get into later), makes anaerobic training the best belly fat burning method.
A study done in 2008 highlighted that a six-week anaerobic training program decreased the oxidation of carbohydrates, increased fat burning and built lean muscle. On the other hand, aerobic exercise activate pathways that breakdown muscle and activate carbohydrate burning first. Other research highlights HIT efficiency by showing fat burning in half the time than that of aerobic training. An example of that would be 30 minutes for HIT participants versus 60 minutes for aerobic participants.
Another trait of anaerobic training is excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC is responsible for energy expenditure post-workout. EPOC is a result of muscle cells restoring physiological factors within the cells post-workout. This results in high energy expenditure, which leads to high amounts of fat burning.
Physiological factors, hormonal factors, are also critical components to body composition (i.e. fat loss). Two hormones that produce high levels of fat burning are growth hormone (GH) and adiponectin. Although both hormones are produced through heavy weightlifting, there are some training differences. GH, a fat burning and muscle restoring hormone, is released in vast quantities as a response to physical stress above the lactate threshold. The lactate threshold is when your muscles can no longer buffer out the hydrogen ions at the rate they are being accumulated during exercise. Adiponectin is released from fat tissue during powerful muscular contractions, say during Olympic weightlifting, which produces substances like PGC1 that enhance metabolic functions. Regardless, both hormones are produced through anaerobic training programs.
Anaerobic training is far more effective, less time committal, and far more challenging than aerobic training. Here are some TRAINING TIPS for body composition / belly fat loss:
1. Compound Exercises – choose big lifts like squats, pull ups, deadlifts, split squat, lunges, bench and other multi-joint lifts over isolation exercises.
2. Eccentric Muscle Actions – perform long, say 3-4 seconds, eccentric actions with an explosive concentric action. This is favorable in performing strength and GH responses. An eccentric action example is the downward motion of a squat or bench press.
3. Sled Style Training – sled pushing, tire flipping, sledge hammering and other forms of strongman work can be a great finishing HIT circuit that elevates fat burning; not to mention challenging and fun.
4. Hill Sprints – the grade is favorable in building strength and elevating lactate (i.e. GH production); sprint up as fast as you can and jog down, perform this 10-20 times.
5. Short Rest Periods – heavy weight and short rest periods produce drastic results. Cross-training performed correctly is superior at fat burning and muscle building.
6. High Load Training – think heavy and you’ve got it right. Don’t be afraid to pick up near 85% 1RM loads and push or pull that around, as long as you can maintain your technique.
Irving, B., Davis, C., et al. Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition.
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2008 40(11), 1865-1870.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association
The Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning – 3rd edition