PCOS belly fat is a common concern for both lean and overweight women living with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Some of the hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS like high cortisol, insulin resistance, and elevated androgens will cause the body to store extra fat around the waist. This can be an issue even if you do not need to lose weight.
To add to this frustrating and confusing problem, ab workouts will not help much for two reasons-
- Workouts that exclusively focus on the abs do not do a very good job of addressing the hormonal issues associated with PCOS belly fat.
- Abdominal workouts don’t help much when it comes to losing fat because they are not the most metabolically stimulating workout. So a killer ab workout will strengthen the core, but you will have nothing to show for your hard work if your strong abs are covered by a layer of stubborn fat- ugh.
So how do you fight belly fat if you have PCOS?
Follow a workout program that will help balance your hormones and burn fat. Oh and, consistently eat a PCOS friendly diet, of course 🙂
PCOS belly fat fighting workout program in 3 steps
Step 1: Do a full body strength workout 3-4 times a 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.
You can use free weights, machines, kettlebells, resistance band, or suspension training get in a good full body strength training session. A full body workout may include some core exercises (1 or 2), but the focus should be on training the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body.
Step 2: Finish each strength workout with a short HIIT session.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a type of cardio workout that alternates between bouts of extremely challenging, fast-paced exercise (the work interval) and bouts of low-intensity exercise (the recovery interval). Several studies like this one conducted by researchers in Norway have found that PCOS women who do High-Intensity Interval Training are able to reduce their body fat percentage overall and lose more belly fat than women who do other types of cardio.
I’ve found that my clients with stubborn belly fat get great results from doing just 10-minutes of HIIT after they finish a full body strength workout.
Step 3: Do a stress reducing workout 3 times a week.
When you are living with unmanaged stress your body produces high levels of the hormone cortisol. Women who have chronically high cortisol levels tend to store excess fat around the abdomen. This is true for women who are overweight and women who are on the slimmer side.
Workouts that incorporate deep breathing and encourage you to slow down stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which is a system of the body that is responsible for reducing stress reactions. When the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated it produces a feeling of relaxation and calm in the mind and the body. Examples of workouts that stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and reduce stress are yoga, Tia Chi, walking outdoors and meditation.