It’s time to tackle a nagging issue many women encounter after reaching their 30s: hanging belly fat. This stubborn extra padding around the midsection can majorly affect your confidence and self-image, keeping you from feeling your absolute best. Fortunately, we spoke with Rose McNulty, CPT, NASM-certified personal trainer and nutrition coach with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares a well-designed workout plan consisting of several effective strength exercises for women to melt hanging belly fat after 30. Gear up for a flatter, more toned tummy.
But first, let’s make one thing clear: No magic solution or quick fix exists that specifically targets belly fat. However, a strategic approach combining targeted strength exercises with effective fat-burning techniques creates a powerful combination that can help you shed unwanted pounds, strengthen your core, and attain the toned midsection you desire.
McNulty tells us, “While it isn’t possible to reduce specific areas of fat on the body, working on the areas where you hope to lose fat helps ensure that toned muscles are waiting to appear once you do. When it comes to belly fat, getting enough exercise overall and incorporating cardiovascular training into your routine is essential, as is eating a balanced, healthy diet. That said, strength training also burns calories and helps with fat loss in the long run. Building muscle also boosts your resting metabolism—aka the number of calories you burn throughout the day without factoring in activity.”
If you’re looking for the most effective exercises to help you eliminate excess belly jiggle, we’ve got you covered below. Read on to learn more about McNulty’s recommended strength exercises for women to melt hanging belly fat after 30, and next, check out the 6 Belly Fat Exercises You Should Start Doing in Your 30s.
Squats are a powerful exercise that can help reduce hanging belly fat by engaging multiple muscle groups, including the glutes, quads, and core. This compound movement will strengthen your lower body while helping burn fat for a more toned midsection. “The squat is a great movement to sneakily work on core strength because it requires perfect posture and overall stability,” says McNulty.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then bend your knees and shift your hips back to lower your body into a squat. Lower yourself down until your upper thighs are about parallel to the floor, keeping your spine neutral throughout the exercise. Push through your heels to stand back up to the starting position. Once you’ve nailed the bodyweight squat, try adding weight as dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells. Complete three sets of eight to 12 reps.
Hanging leg raises are excellent for targeting those lower abs and eliminating hanging belly fat. Lifting your legs while hanging from a bar will engage your entire core, helping to sculpt a flat, chiseled tummy. “This exercise is a classic go-to for targeting the lower abs, which some people find harder to work with typical ab exercises like crunches,” says McNulty.
Start by grabbing a pull-up bar or a sturdy overhead bar with an overhand grip, allowing your body to hang straight down with your arms straight. Engage your core, and keep your upper body stable as you hinge at the hips to lift your legs straight up. Bend your knees as you lift your legs to make the movement beginner-friendly, or keep your legs straight as you hinge at the hips for more of a challenge. Lift your legs until your quads are roughly parallel to the floor, whether you bend your legs or not. Slowly lower your legs. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Russian twists with a medicine ball is an effective rotational exercise that targets the obliques (side abs) to help create a well-defined midsection and trim waistline.
Grab a light medicine ball and sit on the floor, leaning slightly back with your knees bent and your feet slightly off the ground. Engage your core to rotate your torso from side to side, holding the medicine ball close to your torso with both hands throughout the movement. “Think about engaging your core throughout the movement, and keep your spine neutral and shoulders back as you twist,” advises McNulty. Go for three sets of 15 reps per side.
Planks are a classic go-to exercise for a strong and firm core. “The plank is a killer ab exercise that works the entire core, including the glutes, upper body, and legs,” states McNulty.
Begin on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart, then step your feet out so your body forms a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Maintain a straight line, and keep your hips low as you engage your core muscles to hold the plank position for as long as your workout requires. Do three sets of 30 to 60-second holds.
This exercise is performed by lying on your back and mimicking the movement of a dead bug. (Sounds silly, we know!) However, it’s a fantastic core exercise that can shrink your waistline and tighten your tummy. McNulty says, “This low-impact move is an overall core torcher, and it’s a great way to work on coordination as you move each side of your body independently yet in unison.”
Lie on your back with your arms extended toward the ceiling and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Slowly lower your right arm toward the mat while straightening your left leg, keeping your lower back pressed against the floor. Return to the starting position, and repeat on the opposite side. Complete three sets of 12 to 15 reps per side.
Scissor kicks are a simple yet effective exercise for sculpting those lower abs and helping melt off hanging belly fat. “Most people will feel this exercise in their lower abs more than anywhere else, but it also works the rest of the core, glutes, and legs, making it more impactful than it may seem,” says McNulty.
Lie on an exercise mat with your legs extended and your hands either by your sides or underneath your lower back or glutes for support. Engage your core as you lift your legs slightly off the floor. From here, lift your right leg straight up and keep your left leg hovering just above the floor. Simultaneously lower your right leg and raise your left, then continue the motion for the prescribed reps or time. Perform three sets of 15 to 20 reps per leg.
Pushups build upper-body strength and engage your core muscles for stability. This classic compound movement can help strengthen your entire midsection and support fat loss. Plus, it offers several variations for you to use as your fitness progresses. McNulty advises, “Use a wall or perform these from your knees if full pushups are too difficult.”
Start on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart, then step your feet out so your body forms a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Bend your elbows to lower yourself toward the floor, keeping your upper arms at about a 45-degree angle from your body, then push back up once your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Aim for three sets of as many reps as possible.