Does gymnastics really help you lose belly fat?

The quest for a flat stomach is often at the heart of concerns when it comes to getting back into shape. To achieve this, some people turn to specific gymnastics exercises to lose belly fat. What result can they really expect? We take stock.

For many people, the ideal figure necessarily requires a flat stomach ... It must be said that it is difficult to escape the omnipresence of advertisements offering all types of diets, food supplements or other miracle solutions to have concrete abs . Whatever the case, the quest for a flat stomach often involves practicing different sports, including gymnastics , which stands out as the most popular practice. But is it really enough to lose belly fat  ? We take stock with Aurélie Debladis, sports health project manager (gym +) within the French Gymnastics Federation (FFGym).

Understanding the origin of abdominal fat

Before discussing the effectiveness of gymnastics for losing belly fat, it is important to understand where abdominal fat, also known as visceral fat, comes from . As a reminder, the latter refers to the type of adipose tissue that  is found inside the abdominal cavity , surrounding vital organs such as the liver, kidneys and intestines.

Unlike subcutaneous fat, which is located just under the epidermis, it is therefore located deeper in the body. Its accumulation is linked to various factors, including  diet , level of physical activity , stress , genetic factors and age .

What is less known is that beyond the aesthetic aspect, it is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular or metabolic diseases . Hence the importance of preventing its accumulation by adopting a holistic approach, combining regular exercise, balanced diet and stress management.


The role of gymnastics in losing abdominal fat

As Aurélie Debladis explains to us, gymnastics is a complete sport that brings together a wide variety of disciplines (artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, acrobatic gymnastics, aerobics, tumbling, etc.). It allows us  to expend energy while strengthening all of our muscles , improving our flexibility and  our cardio-respiratory endurance .

Gym + sessions adapted to all profiles

If you are overweight or obese, your doctor can prescribe suitable physical activity ( sport on prescription ), detailing your possible physical limitations. With this in mind, many sports federations have therefore developed a practice dedicated specifically to improving health . This is the case of the French Gymnastics Federation which recently developed a program called gym +. 

“The gym + sessions aim to develop or maintain physical condition (endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, etc.) to improve the quality of life of practitioners. Each session allows you to exercise and balance your energy balance . If you particularly want to lose weight, do not hesitate to discuss with your coach who will be able to set up a program adapted to your objectives, your age and your physical condition  ,” explains Aurélie Debladis. And to remind:

The impact of gymnastics on weight loss depends on the regularity of the sessions, their length and their intensity! Aurélie Debladis, sports health project manager (gym +) within the French Gymnastics Federation.

Difficult to target belly fat loss!

As our expert points out, gymnastics is a discipline that uses many muscle groups, in particular the muscles of the abdominal belt , but also:

  • the back muscles and stabilizing muscles  ;
  • lower extremity muscles (jumps, flips, lunges, squats, and balance exercises on a beam or barbell work the leg muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves ) ;
  • and the muscles of the upper limbs (pull-ups, push-ups, dips, parallel bars and ring exercises require significant strength from the muscles of the arms, shoulders, back and chest)...

“The different disciplines make it possible to harmoniously strengthen and refine the entire body and it is difficult to guarantee targeted fat loss in the stomach  ! “, she insists. Contrary to popular belief, even by performing additional muscle strengthening and/or cardio exercises, you will not be able to specifically target belly fat loss .

What gymnastics to eliminate fat in the lower abdomen?

You will have understood, any physical activity is good to take to increase your caloric expenditure and promote weight loss . However, it is better to take an approach that combines cardio and muscle strengthening exercises targeting the abdominal muscles. To do this, you can rely on:

  • traditional gymnastics (plank, lunges, squats, mountain climbers, etc.);
  • high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which alternates between periods of intense effort and periods of active recovery or rest;
  • yoga , to the extent that certain positions actively solicit the abdominal muscles (cobra, half-bridge, boat, etc.);
  • Pilates , a muscle strengthening method that focuses on the development of the abdominal core;
  • etc.

Men and women: what core exercises for a more toned stomach?

As noted above, many gymnastic exercises work the abdominal muscles. Choose the ones that suit you best based on your physical condition:

  • Crunches  : lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, hands behind your head or crossed over your chest. Contracting your abdominal muscles, lift your head, shoulders and upper back off the floor. Keep your lower back glued to the floor. Then slowly lower your upper body toward the floor and repeat.
  • The plank  : adopt the same position as for push-ups, but place your forearms on the ground instead of your hands. Make sure your body forms a straight line from shoulders to feet. Then hold this position for as long as possible, contracting your abdominal muscles and keeping your back flat.
  • Mountain climbers  : adopt a high plank position, hands placed under the shoulders and body well aligned. Bring your right knee toward your chest, then return to your starting position, then bring your left knee toward your chest, and return to your starting position. Continue like this, alternating legs more or less quickly
  • Russian twists  : sit on the floor, lean back slightly, bend your knees slightly and lift your feet off the floor. Hold your hands together or grab a weight in front of you. Then tilt your torso to the right, then to the left, alternately, contracting your abdominals throughout the movement.
  • Leg raises  : lie on your back with your arms alongside your body or under your buttocks for additional support. Slowly raise your straight legs toward the ceiling, contracting your abs. Then slowly lower your legs towards the ground without touching it, then raise them back up. Make sure to keep your lower back glued to the floor throughout the movement.

Regularly alternate these exercises in addition to a full sports practice  and you will gradually observe changes.

How many calories burned per workout?

It is difficult - if not impossible - to answer this question. In reality, the number of calories burned during a gym session depends on several factors, including the intensity of the workout, the duration of the session, the weight of the person, their age, their gender , metabolism, fitness level, etc. We can therefore assume that an intense aerobic gymnastics session burns more calories than a light stretching session .

How to “lose weight” on your stomach? Our advice for optimal results

At the risk of repeating ourselves, to obtain significant results, it is essential to adopt a global approach:

  • Eat a balanced and varied diet , rich in lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Don't forget to limit processed foods, added sugars and saturated fats.
  • Watch your food portions to avoid consuming too many calories. If necessary, use smaller plates, take your time eating and listen to the satiety signals your body sends you.
  • Drink enough water throughout the day to avoid dehydration which can slow metabolism.
  • Incorporate a combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and high-intensity interval training  into your workout routine to burn maximum calories and tone your abdominal muscles.
  • Learn to manage your stress by practicing techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or walking to relax.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep each night, as sleep plays a crucial role in regulating weight and metabolism.
  • Be patient  : losing belly fat can take time and requires a long-term commitment!

In conclusion, the gym is a valuable tool in the quest for a toned and firm stomach. By strengthening the abdominal muscles, it helps improve the aesthetic appearance of the abdominal area. However, to significantly lose belly fat, you must adopt a global approach, combining targeted exercises, cardiovascular activity, a balanced diet and an overall healthy lifestyle. With perseverance, it is entirely possible to achieve your goals!