Does Running Burn Belly Fat?

Does Running Burn Belly Fat Or Are You Wasting Your Time?

Curious to find the real answer to the question, “does running burn belly fat?”  There’s no doubt marathons have exploded in popularity over the past few years and with events consistently selling out it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon.

I quite often hear people tell me they’re going to start training for a marathon and I’m happy to see they’re excited for exercise but if they’re looking to lose belly fat then they’ll probably be wasting their time.  Don’t get me wrong, there are numerous benefits to marathon training such as the cardiovascular health as well as the endurance, but when it comes to fat loss it comes in last place.

We’ll get into why steady state cardio running isn’t going to be effective to burning belly fat in a bit but first I want to talk about something most people don’t even think about.  A lot of those who first start marathon training are total beginners and have practically been sitting on their big butts for years.

Marathon training requires a ton of repetitive stress on the body and if you haven’t exercised since Clinton was president then your body most likely can’t handle it.  The injury rate for beginners embarking on a marathon training routine is pretty high so if you are going to do this then I’d recommend starting low with a 5K and working your way up.  Also consider going with a pro who will be able to help customize your training so you reduce the risk of injury.

So Does Running Burn Belly Fat?

In a very popular study they had a endurance based training group who trained for 20 weeks and compared it with an interval training group that trained for 15 weeks.  At the end of the report they found those in the interval group lost 9x’s as much body fat than the endurance group.

This is huge!  So the interval group lost 900% more fat than the endurance group in LESS time.

Another study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition had a group perform aerobic exercise at 78% max heart rate for 45 minutes a session 5 times per week.  After 12 weeks they found there was no effect over dieting alone.  If you’re trying to burn belly fat then this was a total waste of time!

There are quite a few other studies out there that prove the same thing that interval training will win time and time again.  Even though both endurance and interval training will improve cardiovascular health there is only one clear winner for fat loss.

The Final Word On Does Running Burn Belly Fat

So if your goal is to drop some fat then interval training is the way to go.  Also the likelihood of getting injured is going to be less so there shouldn’t be anything keeping you from getting results.  I often hear people who are injured themselves while training for a marathon and all of their motivation goes out the window as they sit around waiting for their injury to heal.

If you’re looking for an example of interval training routine check out my HIIT workout program blog post.  Once again I think there are some good benefits to marathon training and it’s quite an accomplishment to complete one.  But if you’re looking to lose belly fat then interval training is the clear choice to the question, “does running burn belly fat?”

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  1. Bryan Farley

    August 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Hey Josh, I’m a 30 year old guy who is really out of shape. I’m 6’2 and 265 lbs. When I was younger I played a lot of basketball and was about 185 but always considered myself too skinny. I was looking up information on Will Smith and ran across your site, which is nice by the way. I would love to oneday be able to compare my frame to his. Any suggestions for someone who hasn’t really worked out seriously in years?


    • Josh Schlottman

      September 16, 2011 at 7:06 pm

      Hi Bryan,

      I was also pretty skinny growing up but the “secret” is going to be to you a lot of healthy calories such as lean proteins and green vegetables while also lifting heavy weights with big movements such as deadlifts and squats.


  2. anthony harte

    September 5, 2011 at 6:06 am

    would your summer arms blast workout be considered a metabolic resistance workout?


    • Josh Schlottman

      September 16, 2011 at 7:11 pm

      Hi Anthony,

      I would consider it a metabolic resistance workout but you’re going to mix it up and not just do the same work out every time.


  3. Charles

    December 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    I would agree with you about interval training would be the best for losing belly fat. It is true you avoid injuries. Also, interval training is easy to start, by improvising a home gym. You do not need to run for several hours like marathon to lose belly fat. Do aerobic exercises and these are very effective as well. Have a focus and be consistent how long, when and what kind of training fits your schedule.


  4. Mimi

    February 3, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Hi Josh. I’m a 20 year old female. Not too bugged up on belly fat at the moment, but I do wish to train for endurance in the short term. How is it possible to build up on my endurance in a few weeks? What is the best way? Best exercises for endurance?

    And lovely website you have here!


    • Josh Schlottman

      June 1, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks Mimi! I would really recommend doing more HIIT to improve your endurance. It’s crazy how well sprinting will improve your endurance running.


  5. Caleb

    May 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Does running lose muscle?


  6. Tramya

    August 24, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Hey Trainer Josh,
    I am a athlete , I play basketball.
    And I am required too do a lot of running and
    I’m also trying too lose fat and gain muscle.
    What suggestions do you have to get in shape and lose
    Fat if running doesn’t really help.


    • Josh Schlottman

      December 7, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Hi Tramya, really focus on your diet to make sure you’re eating healthy foods (animal meats, vegetables, some fruit and nuts) and be sure to have a weightlifting program as well. Focus on full body movements for your exercises as well as some olympic movements.


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About Josh

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Hey, I’m Josh.

I help good people transform their bodies with smart nutrition & training.

Let’s do this.