You want to get rid of some of that belly fat and are wondering if the treadmill is the right tool for the job. The treadmill is the most popular gym machine out there but can it help you reduce the size of your belly? And what about other body parts?
A treadmill is a great tool for lowering the body fat percentage and therefore reducing the size of your belly. Using the treadmill for 30-45 minutes 5-6 days a week at medium intensity will visibly start reducing your belly size after 4-6 weeks if combined with a good diet.
How does running on a treadmill help you reduce belly fat and what are things to look out for? Keep reading to find out.
Does Running On a Treadmill Make You Lose Belly Fat?
A treadmill is an effective way to burn calories and burning calories is what lowers your body fat percentage. While running does use the core muscles, it doesn’t engage them enough to grow abs. But for losing belly fat, this doesn’t matter.
Belly fat is fat. It’s not any different than fat in other places on your body except that it’s even less welcome. However, the way to get rid of belly fat is the same as the way to lose body fat in other places. You can’t choose to reduce the amount of fat only in certain places; it just doesn’t work that way. When you eat fewer calories than you burn throughout the day, your body burns fat to make up the difference. Where that fat is taken from depends on age, gender, hormone balance and genetics.
The belly is actually the last place your body burns the fat from, especially if you’re male. Females tend to store more fat in the glutes and thighs areas and the belly fat disappears a little earlier. Either way, it doesn’t matter and to reduce belly fat, you’ll have to lower your overall body fat percentage, there is no way you can do anything to burn your belly fat earlier than your body decides, no matter what type of exercise you do.
A treadmill is a good tool to burn calories and therefore to lower your body fat. Lowering your body fat percentage will ultimately translate into reduced belly fat. To actually lose a significant amount of belly fat, you’ll have to stick to your workout routine for a while but this is the same as any other type of exercise.
Running on a treadmill for 30-45 minutes a day at moderate to high intensity for 5 days a week is a good goal to shoot for to significantly reduce your body fat levels. However, to lose a good amount of weight, combining working out with a balanced and nutritious diet is very important to get the results you want.
How Long To Use a Treadmill To Lose Belly Fat?
So how long do you have to run on your treadmill to start losing belly fat? As you can read above, it all has to do with how many calories you burn and your overall body fat percentage.
Running on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week at medium intensity is enough to start losing 2 kg/4.4 lbs. a month provided your diet is also in order. You will see your belly start shrinking after 4-6 weeks.
The first thing you should understand is the energy balance. To lose weight, you should take in fewer calories than you burn throughout the day. It’s very simple but not easy. That means you have to improve your diet as well as use your treadmill regularly.
Running on a treadmill at a moderate pace for 30 minutes burns about 300 calories. Of course the exact number depends on how heavy you are and the intensity you run at. The heavier you are the more calories you burn in 30 minutes. Speed and incline also play a big role. So let’s say you run for 30 minutes a day and burn 300 calories. How fast will you lose weight?
1 kg/2.2 lbs. of fat contains about 7700 kcal. If you eat 500 calories fewer a day than you use, your body will burn 1 kilo/2.2 lbs. of fat every 15 days. A 500 calorie deficit is about the maximum deficit you want to aim for unless otherwise advised by a healthcare professional. For most people a 500 calorie deficit is sustainable for an extended period of time and is therefore more effective than a bigger deficit. A 500 calorie deficit means you lose about 2 kg/4.4 lbs. a month.
Running 30 minutes a day is very doable (although it’s a good idea to take one or two rest days a week). If running for 30 minutes only burns 300 calories but you want a 500 calorie deficit, how do you make up for the 200 calorie difference? You have to eat fewer calories.
You’ll have to figure out how many calories you burn without exercise. This is called the Base Metabolic Rate (BMR) Click here for a calculator. So if your BMR is 2000 calories, you want to eat 1800 calories and run on the treadmill long and hard enough to burn 300 calories. That will result in a 500 calorie deficit that will result in losing 2 kg/4.4 lbs. a month.
It’s possible to lose belly fat by running on a treadmill and it’s a good way to do it because it’s effective and sustainable. However, it’s still necessary to take care of your diet and energy intake. A treadmill isn’t magic. The laws of thermodynamics still apply.
How to Reduce Belly Size Faster
The basics of belly fat loss are the same as other fat loss. It’s just that for most people, belly fat is the last place where the fat actually starts to go away. Especially for men the belly is a place where fat is stored and is hard to get rid of. While running on a treadmill is a great way to burn calories and so reduce body fat, there are some ways to make your belly appear smaller.
You can’t reduce fat in a certain location. What you can do is lower your overall body fat percentage. It’s mainly up to your genetics where you lose fat first and last. Some people have an easier time getting rid of extra pounds on the belly than others. Some people will lose almost all the fat anywhere else on their body before starting to reduce belly fat while for other people it’s more even. It isn’t fair but you’ll have to play the hand you’re dealt.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else about the overall size of your belly. While the fat on top of your abs is a huge factor in how big it looks, it isn’t the only one. The other factors are core strength and bloating.
If you’ve got a really weak core, and especially Transversus Abdominus muscle, you can make your tummy appear smaller by training this. The Transversus Abdominus is a muscle that lies under the muscles that create the 6-pack look. It’s the muscle you use when trying to pull your belly button towards your spine. Strengthening this muscle can pull your belly in without consciously doing this. This will make your belly appear flatter.
Running does improve core strength and endurance if you keep good form. It’s helpful to train your core separately though. Here’s a good place to start. With running you’re not specifically targeting the Transversus Abdominus specifically so you’ll have to do some extra exercises. Do some core exercises after finishing your running and you’ll compound your effects.
Another issue that makes your stomach look bigger is bloating. Many people are intolerant to certain foods without even knowing it. This can cause bloating which makes you feel worse than you could and gives your stomach a distended look. It can be worth it to experiment with eliminating different foods from your diet to see if you can improve this problem.
There are lots of resources on bloating and diet. You can start here on WebMD
Strength training plays very nice with cardio exercise. The two complement each other in the best way. Building strength and muscle obviously makes your muscles bigger. That alone will make you look more athletic. It also does a few other things:
- Bigger muscles mean the potential to burn more calories. It means you can run faster and use a higher incline on the treadmill and therefore use more calories per minute.
- An increase in muscle mass raises your BMR. So having more muscle means you burn more calories without even using them.
- Bigger muscles in other parts of your body will make your belly look smaller by comparison.
Also, doing something else than running can break up the monotony of doing the same thing day after day. There is an almost countless amount of strength training exercises with a very wide range of equipment that can make your workouts different and more interesting. And on top of that you get better and faster results than if you’d only run.
I’ve mentioned the amount of calories you eat as an important factor in weight loss above. However, just looking at the calories alone doesn’t tell the whole story. To have good workouts every day, you want to give your body the right fuel.
There is an endless amount of words to write about diet but let’s keep it simple. You want to eat the right ratio of macronutrients (carbs, protein and fats) from mostly whole foods. Aiming to eat 80% whole foods is a good goal and has a big impact for most people. Cook your own food as much as possible and avoid processed and junk food.
Also, most people underestimate how many calories they drink. Cutting out soda and fancy coffee drinks and replacing them with water/black coffee/tea can save a few hundred calories a day.
Can Running On a Treadmill Alone Get You Abs?
Ok, you can reduce the size of your belly by running on a treadmill and changing your diet, but can you get visible abs? Visible 6-pack abs are something that many want but few achieve. Can a treadmill alone get you there?
To get visible abs you need two things;
- A low enough body fat percentage
- Abdominal muscles that are big enough to pop out
Running is great at burning calories which helps you to lower body fat. Combined with a good diet and consistent workout schedule, you’ll get your body fat percentage low enough to actually get to the point where you can easily see a 6-pack. To have visible abs, men need a body fat percentage +-15% or lower while women need to be under +-20%. Combining an improved diet with regular medium to high intensity treadmill is going to get you there.
The second part is that the ab muscles that create the 6-pack have to be big enough to actually see. While running does engage the core to some degree, it’s not very effective for building up the muscle you want to see grow (the Rectus Abdominis).
So to get to your 6-pack, you’ll have to do some other exercises besides rowing that specifically target the Rectus Abdominis. The following movements are good to start off with;
- Hanging leg raises
- Leg raises
Basically any movement that brings your chest to your legs or legs to your chest will use this muscle.
A treadmill can certainly help you get visible abs. Running is good for burning calories and therefore lowering body fat percentage. However, you’ll still have to have a good diet and do separate ab exercises to grow the 6-pack muscles enough to really make them easily visible.
Favorite Cardio Machine Accessories
Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:
- Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high quality choice.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and workouts, there is no better choice than the GymNext Flex. It’s super easy to use and set up with a phone app.
- Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
- Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.
To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.