Find the 7 Most Effective Exercises to get Rid of Muffin Top Here!

Isn’t it annoying when that waistline seems to fall out of our jeans and completely destroy our outfit? Try these exercises to get rid of muffin top today!

Sanchari Bhattacharya
Written by Sanchari Bhattacharya , Health & Fitness Expert
Updated on Dec 18, 2023 | 01:18 PM IST | 517.7K
exercises-to-get-rid-of-muffin-top
exercises-to-get-rid-of-muffin-top

We all salivate whenever we hear the word muffin! Yet, muffin top is a dreadful word for us. Muffin top is a slang term used to denote the accumulated fat in your lower belly and above your butt. Studies show that staying fit  improves our mood and boosts our feel good factor and reveals feelings of pleasantness, of being energetic, and being calm (1). Muffin tops are a reminder of all that goes against the above sentiments.  

Sharing the harmful impacts of a muffin top, our contributor Mary Sabat, RDN, LD, and Ace Certified Trainer, says, “Over time, a muffin top can have adverse effects on one's health. Excess abdominal fat, which often leads to a muffin top appearance, is associated with an increased risk of various health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. This type of fat is metabolically active and can release inflammatory substances, contributing to chronic inflammation in the body. Additionally, a muffin top may lead to poor posture and discomfort, impacting overall quality of life. It's essential to address and manage excess abdominal fat to reduce the potential health risks associated with a muffin top.”

No one wants a muffin top of course! But the best part is that there are many ways to get rid of it. There are many exercises to get rid of a muffin top and we’ll explore each one in detail here. It’s not going to be easy but nothing worthwhile comes easy, does it? 

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What Causes a Muffin Top?

Before we dive into some muffin top exercises, it’s important to find out what causes it. 

Muffin top can affect everyone irrespective of their gender. A sedentary life coupled with poor lifestyle choices are the most common factors that contribute to this. However, let us look at the broad range of factors which causes a muffin top. 

1. Aging 

Aging is considered to be one of the primary reasons for a muffin top. Our metabolism slows down with age and contributes to lesser muscle mass. Fat cells become larger and may aid in building a muffin top. 

Weight gain from early adulthood to midlife is linked to increase in both fat and muscle mass and the fat location. Compared to other parts of the body in terms of distribution of fat, weight circumference and intra-abdominal visceral fat increase faster (2). 

2. Unhealthy eating habits

Unhealthy eating habits

This one shouldn’t come as a surprise. As is the case with unhealthy weight gain all over the body, the same is the case with increased fat in the hip area. A 4-year study among 120,877 U.S. men and women free of chronic diseases and not obese at baseline showed weight gain contributed by potato chips, potatoes, sweetened beverages, processed meats and unprocessed red meats (3). As we grow older, our body takes more time to process and digest certain types of food without exercise, the food settles quickly in all parts of the body, especially in the hips, leading to a muffin top.  

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3. Physical inactivity 

If you want to stay fit and lose weight, one must burn fat and the best way to do that is by choosing an exercise you enjoy. For some, it may be running, for others swimming. Living a sedentary life can cause fat to build up in the abdominal area and result in a muffin top. A research paper shows that living an inactive lifestyle directly leads to weight gain, which could eventually lead to obesity (4).

4. Stress

With the added pressures of managing home, children, work, everyday life, and putting up with social necessities, stress levels are off the roof. As the body prepares to deal with stress on a daily basis, it releases a string of hormones, including cortisol. It prepares your body to react quickly during stressful times. Cortisol informs your liver to produce more glucose as a source of fuel and it also increases belly fat. An abstract shows that patients with abdominal obesity have increased cortisol levels (5). 

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5. Lack of sleep

Lack of sleep

Much like stress, poor sleep habits, lack of sleep, and no sleep hygiene can also increase cortisol in the body. While short periods of sleeping ill won’t cause much of a change, long-term insomnia or insufficient sleep may force your adrenal glands to produce more cortisol. 

Now that we know the hidden causes and triggers, let’s make an active effort in fighting a muffin top with these exercises. 

Top 7 Muffin Top Exercises 

1. Yoga 

While it may not be strenuous like the other exercises on the list (trust us, you’ll thank us later), yoga is one of the best muffin top exercises. It not only helps one lose weight but also helps maintain healthy body weight and brings balance to the body, heart, and mind everyday. A study followed 60 obese women on their weight loss journey with yoga as the preferred choice of exercise and the results showed that those with high initial weight loss continued to lose up to 09 kgs (6). There are several asanas that can help you lose unwanted fat and weight around your lower back and your abs that contribute to the muffin top. Try these two asanas to get rid of that bulge: 

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  • Trikonasana or Triangle Pose 

One of the best exercises for muffin top, the triangle pose starts in a standing up straight position. Spread your legs wide open and stretch them to the best of your abilities while maintaining a stable posture. Spread your arms open to form a “T” shape and point your left foot outwards and your right foot facing the left. Bend down from the side, so that your left hand grabs on to your left ankle and your right hand shoots up towards the ceiling. Keep looking at the ceiling and hold the position for at least 30 seconds. Come back to the center and repeat it on the other side. 

  • Navasana or Boat Pose

Navasana or Boat Pose

Come to a seated position with your knees bent and touching each other and the soles of your feet touching the yoga mat. Bring both hands behind your back and place them by the fingertips. Lift your chest upwards but clench your navel in and move your hands back slightly. Lift your legs aligning it to bring it parallel to your knees and engage your core. Alternatively, you can bring your hands forwards to meet your knees for an extra challenge and hold the stance for as long as you can. 

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2. Superman 

Considered one of the better exercises to get rid of muffin tops, the superman helps you tighten your abdominal muscles and firm your lower back. It’s a floor exercise that focuses on the back and strengthens muscles in your core. Lie face down on a mat and extend your arms and legs straight back. Stretch your arms and legs backwards as they hover over the floor and simultaneously tighten your core and glutes as your arms and legs are lifted. Hold for one count and rest. Try three sets of 20 seconds of Superman lifts every day to begin with before doing more. 

3. Russian Twist 

A Russian Twist may look like a basic and easy exercise but it requires quite a lot of strength and stability. It’s a great exercise to build upper body strength, to engage the core, and certainly a great muffin top workout. 

Sit on your yoga or exercise mat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Lift both your legs and let it hover a few inches over the ground or higher if you’re able to and slightly bend your knees. Interlock your fingers and move your hands from one side to another while touching the floor each time with your elbows. 

4. Rolling Side Plank

Rolling Side Plank

If you’re already groaning at the thought of having to plank, we can only tell that you’ve got this and you’ve just got to tough it out. Primarily a core stability exercise, it improves your strength levels and endurance. It also increases strength in the muscles and the lower back helping you lose unwanted fat, making it one of the best muffin top exercises. 

Start in a plank position. Immediately, turn your whole body at an angle to face the right side, resting on your left hand and left foot. Raise your right hand to the ceiling and look up. Alternate on the other side. Repeat 3 sets of 20 and build your endurance up as you go. 

5. Crunches 

Yes, the tried and tested abdomen crunches. No, it’s not only a great exercise for those who want washboard abs, it’s also an excellent exercise for muffin tops. Crunches help build abdominal muscle, strengthens the core, and also tightens the obliques and lower back muscles. In time, it’s an excellent aid in helping you improve posture while also fighting lower back pain. 

Lie down flat on your mat with your knee bent and feet firmly placed on the floor. Interlock your fingers and place it under the back of the head. Push your upper body forward to bring it towards the knees and stop mid way. Try to go as high as possible and not let your feet be lifted at all. Try 3 sets of 20 pacing it throughout the day and more crunches as you build endurance. 

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6. Dumbbell side bend 

Love handles and muffin tops can be a thing of the past with this simple yet effective exercise. Dumbbell side bends are great to strengthen the core and build strong back muscles. It also targets your internal and external oblique muscles which helps strengthen the sides of your body. Training the oblique muscles helps in shaping and toning the waistlines, which ultimately helps shed fat from the waistline. 

As a beginner learning to use the dumbbell, it’s important not to place any pressure on the back. Start by warming up. Stand straight and bend your body sideways, so that the right arm is tilting to meet the right leg and repeat the same in the left side. Keep it going to get your juices flowing. Now grab a dumbbell in a weight you’re comfortable with and repeat the process, alternating at each side. 

7. Twisting Mountain Climbers

Twisting Mountain Climbers

Another excellent way to work the obliques and get the results you want with your muffin top is by trying out some twisting mountain climbers. It’s considered a terrific exercise to burn some calories quickly to wave goodbye to that extra flab in the waistline.

First find a plank position with your arms fully extended. Squeeze your right knee toward your left elbow and then straighten that leg to place it back on the floor. Repeat on the other side and try to get in three sets of 20 seconds each. 

Losing weight can be one of the hardest things one has to ever commit to. Once we get into the groove, it serves quite a few benefits. We even fit into those jeans from years ago that we’ve been saving up for a rare occasion. We hope that these exercises to get rid of muffin top come of good use to you and that you are able to sculpt that fit figure you’ve always dreamed of. Remember that exercise only won’t reap any benefits and eating healthy contributes significantly to how fast you burn calories and how you feel too. So, eat healthy, rest well, engage in activities that keep stress at bay, and most importantly, don’t be hard on yourself and give yourself a break when you need it.

Contributor: Mary Sabat, RDN, LD, Ace Certified Trainer - Body Designs Ltd.

Sources: 

1. Studies show that staying fit can also help improve our mood and boost our feel good factor. Unpacking the Feel Good Effect of Free-Time Physical Activity: Between- and Within-Person Associations with Pleasant-Activated Feeling States

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144026/

2. A study suggests that weight gain from early adulthood to midlife is linked to increase in both fat and muscle mass and fat location and the quality of muscle, too, change with age.

A Research Agenda: The Changing Relationship Between Body Weight and Health in Aging

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4984841/

3. A 4-year study among 120,877 U.S. men and women free of chronic diseases and not obese at baseline showed weight gain contributed by potato chips, potatoes, sweetened beverages, processed meats and unprocessed red meats 

Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3151731/

4. A research paper shows that living an inactive lifestyle directly leads to weight gain, which could eventually lead to obesity.

Contribution of a sedentary lifestyle and inactivity to the etiology of overweight and obesity: current evidence and research issues

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10593524/

5. An abstract shows that patients with abdominal obesity have increased cortisol levels.

Stress, cortisol, and obesity: a role for cortisol responsiveness in identifying individuals prone to obesity

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27345309/

6. A study followed 60 obese women on their weight loss journey with yoga as the preferred choice of exercise and the results showed that those with high initial weight loss continued to lose up to 09 kgs. 

A preliminary investigation of yoga as an intervention approach for improving long-term weight loss: A randomized trial

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0263405

 

FAQs

How can I lose my muffin top fast?
Exercises like the dumbbell side bend and the russian twist can help one lose a muffin top fast. Please refer to the article to learn how to perform these exercises.

How do you target muffin top fat?
First, focus on losing overall body weight and fat. Then, choose exercises that focus on the abdomen, lower back, and your obliques.

How do you get rid of love handles and muffin tops?
It’s important to lose weight all over the body to get rid of love handles and muffin tops. One must practice healthy eating, get enough rest, and exercise daily as well.

Does walking help lose muffin top?
As brisk walking helps a person shed weight, it also helps in reducing the waistline.

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About The Author
Sanchari Bhattacharya
Sanchari Bhattacharya
Health & Fitness Expert

Sanchari, a certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach

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