3 Best Exercises for PCOS Belly Fat + Expert Tips & Workout Plan

Get rid of your PCOS belly fat using tested exercises and training recommendations.

Few things are more frustrating than stubborn PCOS belly fat that refuses to shrink – no matter how many abs crunches you sweat through.

Unfortunately, research shows a PCOS belly is one of the hallmarks of this hormonal disorder. 

The good news is there are specific stomach exercises that actually reduce belly fat. 

To achieve the best results, though, you’ll have to pair these belly fat exercises with other lifestyle changes. Proper diet and adequate self-care are essential. 

And, as always, consult a professional before you get started with a new exercise regime.

What does a PCOS belly look like? 

A PCOS belly is when you have a fuller midsection giving your body an apple shape. 

Even lean women carry excess belly fat. In the PCOS Plan, Nadia Brito Pateguana, a naturopathic doctor with PCOS, writes that she gained weight mainly in her belly. 

Many women have slimmer legs and thighs and a larger belly. This was the case for me. I was generally skinny, but always carried excess weight around my middle. 

If any of this sounds familiar to you, know that you’re not alone. Plenty of women share pictures of their PCOS belly on Reddit. It’s a great resource if you’re looking for advice and inspiration.

Check this article for more on what a PCOS belly looks like and strategies to reduce hormonal belly fat.

What causes the PCOS belly shape?

A hormonal imbalance is the main cause of PCOS belly fat, according to a 2020 research review published in Molecular Metabolism.

Authors explain that women and men store fat differently. Typically, women store more fat in the thighs and butt. Generally, men carry more fat in the abdomen.

“However, this pattern of fat accumulation is altered in hyperandrogenic women with PCOS,” notes researchers.

Several clinical studies confirm higher abdominal fat is linked with excess androgens, or male sex hormones.

“Additional findings have supported the role of androgens in body fat distribution in females, promoting increased visceral adiposity. In this sense, chronic administration of testosterone in female-to-male transsexuals has also been shown to increase visceral adiposity and decrease subcutaneous fat depots.”

In another study women took an anti-androgen and subsequently reduced their abdominal fat.

And excess belly fat isn’t just a source of embarrassment, it may pose a serious health risk, warn researchers:

“This alteration in regional fat distribution induced by androgens may have detrimental metabolic implications for PCOS patients, since increased visceral adiposity is considered a risk factor for the development of metabolic syndrome…and may contribute to aggravating metabolic abnormalities linked to this endocrinopathy.” 

A 2020 paper published in the Human Reproduction Open backs up this finding. In this longitudinal study, researchers found abdominal fat was associated with a higher Type 2 diabetes risk.

3 best exercises for PCOS belly fat that actually work

Here’s a round-up of the top stomach exercises for PCOS. 

1. Strength training

Strength training, such as weight training and resistance training, has been shown to reduce belly fat in people with PCOS.

According to a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal, women with PCOS were able to reduce their abdominal fat using resistance training. They participated in the training three times a week for four months. This programme included the following exercises:

  • Bench presses
  • Leg extensions
  • Front lat pull-down
  • Leg curls
  • Lateral raises
  • triceps pulleys
  • Calf leg presses
  • Arm curls
  • Abdominal exercise

The PCOS Personal Trainer recommends doing a full-body strength workout three to four times per week:

“Muscle-building workouts reduce insulin resistance and help lower androgens. Full body strength workouts are particularly helpful for reducing body fat because they have a high metabolic demand.”

For this workout, use weights, kettlebells, or a resistance band. Your workout might incorporate core exercises, but you should target the upper and lower body, writes the PCOS Personal Trainer. 

The blog also uploads quick stomach fat exercises for PCOS you can do at home without any equipment. 

2. Cardio

Research shows cardio can reduce belly fat.

A PLoS ONE study found that cardio helped women with PCOS to reduce belly fat and improve insulin sensitivity. For this study, participants walked or jogged on a treadmill. 

WebMD’s best exercises for belly fat include:

  • Brisk walking 
  • Running
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling

Whatever you choose, make sure it’s an activity you enjoy doing, recommends WebMD. That way you’re more likely to do it regularly. 

3. Yoga

Yoga is a great way to manage your stress, thereby reducing your cortisol levels.

A study in the International Journal of Innovative Research and Development reviews yoga as a weight management tool for PCOS.

“Entering into peaceful state lowers the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol causes the body to store fat. Yoga eases any stress through breathing techniques that bring complete relaxation within the body. 

“Relaxation can work to offset the effects of hormonal imbalance and take care of any negative emotions, irritability and frequent mood swings.” 

For more information, check out this guide on yoga for PCOS.

How to get rid of lower belly fat with PCOS using exercise: expert tips 

Before jumping into any of the specific exercises, it’s important to note one thing: physical activity alone likely won’t help you lose PCOS belly fat. Apply these additional strategies to eliminate your belly fat.

Create an exercise habit

Use proven behavioral science to stick to your exercise routine. This is because any form of exercise is only effective if it’s consistent. 

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recommend these proven tactics to turn exercise into a habit:

  • Select the best day to start a new routine. Studies show we’re more motivated to kick off new routines on specific dates, like the start of a new year, season, or week. Capitalise on these new beginnings. 
  • Stick to your routine for a month at the minimum. One study suggests a month of keeping at something necessary to form a lasting habit.
  • Set ambitious workout goals. Aim for a tough goal, but build in some flexibility.

Generally, I’ve found the concept of Tiny Habits particularly helpful for forming habits. For instance, when I wanted to start practicing yoga regularly, I decided to aim for between 10 to 20 minutes each day when I woke up.

Follow an easy belly fat workout plan

An exercise schedule keeps you on track. Further, removing the uncertainty of what to do each day eliminates a lot of the friction that typically goes along with forming a new habit.

In Grazia India, Dr. Khushboo Thakker Garodia, homeopath and integrative health expert, recommends 50 to 60 minutes of exercise per day, five to six times per week. She provides this sample exercise plan for PCOS belly fat

  • Day 1: strength training
  • Day 2: swim, cycle, or run
  • Day 3: yoga
  • Day 4: active rest
  • Day 5: strength training
  • Day 6: yoga
  • Day 7: walking for 40 minutes 

Don’t feel discouraged if 50 minutes of physical activity seems overwhelming or impossible to fit into your day. Most experts agree that any amount of exercise is beneficial.

Prioritize diet and self-care

While this article exclusively explores specific exercises for PCOS belly fat, a sole focus on exercise might not be enough to banish your belly fat. To eliminate your belly fat, you need exercise, diet, and stress management. 

This Reddit user explains that walking is her go-to exercise for PCOS belly fat. However, at the same time, she made changes to her diet, most notably switching to low-carb and eliminating processed sugars.

Personally, I also noticed a drop in belly fat when I switched to a low-carb, low-sugar diet. My exercise routine included yoga, cycling, and walking. 

Elevated levels of cortisol can also cause weight gain. When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands produce more cortisol, according to Medical News Today. Cortisol tells your body to store more fat and this fat often goes to your belly and face.

Get rid of your PCOS belly fat

Belly fat means more than just an expanding waistline that can destroy your confidence. It poses serious health risks, like breast cancer, heart diseases, and type 2 diabetes.