How to Deal with Belly Fat with PCOS

Today’s article is one that I have been looking forward to for a long time. Having just had a baby, I’m desperate to blitz the last of my weight and that darn belly fat that goes hand in hand with PCOS. It is written by someone whom I hope you’ll see a lot more of on the blog!

To find out more about how to manage PCOS naturally and deal with that belly fat by changing the way that you eat, check out my free training, “How to Manage PCOS Naturally.”

Erika is a certified personal trainer, Nutrition Coach, and fitness writer. She holds certifications from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), TRX Suspension Training Systems and Precision Nutrition.

Erika was diagnosed with PCOS in 2005. She believes that lifestyle modifications are the best treatment for PCOS. If you want to learn more about how exercise can alleviate PCOS symptoms, please visit her website at

Erika lives with her husband in a small beach town somewhere in Costa Rica. Her hobbies include cooking, hiking, learning Spanish and traveling. At you’ll find at-home workout plans, healthy cooking tips, and stories about her life in Costa Rica.

As a personal trainer, I always get a little nervous when a female client walks into my training studio, grabs ahold of her belly and says “We need to do something about this!”

I take a deep breath and give her the bad news (and then the good news!).  The bad news is that we can’t selectively reduce fat from certain areas of our bodies.  The good news is that you can reduce your belly fat through a commitment to regular exercise and healthy eating habits.

Bombarding your poor abs with crunches is not an effective way to battle belly fat. Abdominal fat, like all other body fat, needs to be used by the body as a fuel source in order for it to disappear from your waistline.


The majority of abdominal exercises do not burn many calories. Abdominal strengthening exercises will improve the tone of your rectus abdominis, obliques and transverse abdominal muscles, but you will have nothing to show for your hard work if those abs are covered by a layer of fat!

Think of it this way: if you put silk bed sheets beneath a down comforter, can you tell the sheets are silk just by looking at the bed? No – and you can’t see strong, taught ab muscles if they are beneath a layer of fat.

So what’s the solution? Choose exercises that use large calorie burning muscles, like your quads, while also engaging your abdominal core. This approach will help you build a stable, strong core while you burn fat.

Of course you will also need to eat a diet of healthy foods like the meal plans you find on this site 🙂

At the bottom of this post you’ll find a 25 minute, equipment free, home workout that will help you burn some serious calories, strengthen your abdominal core and other major muscles. I designed the workout to help you address belly fat in a sensible and effective way.
Belly-fat-PCOS-stomachBut before you get your sweat on, I want to talk a little bit about belly fat and PCOS. Carrying weight around your middle is a risk factor for PCOS, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease – yikes! It certainly is important to both our health and our pride to reduce belly fat.

There are two types of fat that take up residence in your middle: subcutaneous abdominal fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous abdominal fat is the stuff you see in the mirror, that you can pinch. Visceral fat is hidden and tucked away deep in the body in-between the internal organs.

Visceral fat is particularly concerning for us PCOS women. Studies have lead the medical community to believe that visceral fat contributes to insulin resistance and that abdominal fat in general disrupts the functioning of several other hormones. If there is one thing us ladies with PCOS want to avoid it is additional hormonal imbalances!

Fortunately exercise tends to reduce visceral fat quickly. A 2005 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that individuals who participated in a moderate-intensity aerobic workout for a total of 3 hours a week (that could be broken down into just 25 minutes a day) lost 7% of their visceral fat in just 8 months.  While just a little activity can go a long way it seems that being sedentary can really add to your belly fat problem. The same study observed a control group of similar participants. The control group did not do any exercise and saw a jaw-dropping 8.6% increase in visceral fat.

Our more unsightly subcutaneous abdominal fat tends to be more stubborn but it will respond to lifestyle modifications like regular exercise. So even if your become frustrated with your slowly shrinking waist remember that you are probably eradicating that more dangerous visceral fat before moving on to your muffin top.

Belly fat can be an embarrassing problem and an issue that could be affecting your overall health. Your extra belly fat does not have to be a permanent condition! Regular exercise, good nutrition and patience will shrink your belly fat while expanding your health and self esteem.

How to deal with belly fat with PCOS pinterest

The attack your belly fat circuit


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  • Warm up with five to ten minutes of dynamic stretching.  You can find instructions for a quick warmup on this page.
  • Do each of the exercises below for the work interval you selected based on your fitness level (see the chart below.)
  • Once you have completed the recovery interval move on to the next exercise.
  • Once you have completed each exercise (the circuit) you can choose to rest
  • Keep making your way through this circuit for 20 minuets.
  • Work really hard. Have fun.
  • Cool down and stretch. Go enjoy the rest of your day.


Work Level

Rest Level

Break between Circuits

Beginner 20 seconds 40 seconds 1-2 minutes
Intermediate 1 30 seconds 30 seconds 2 minutes
Intermediate 2 40 seconds 20 seconds 2 minutes
Advanced 20 seconds 10 seconds Complete 2 circuits in a row, then rest for 2-3 minutes

The Plank

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  • Lie on you stomach and forearms with your elbows beneath your shoulders.
  • Exhale, brace your core, and make your legs ridged as you lift your weight off the ground so that you are supporting yourself on your forearms and toes.
  • Hold this position with a neutral spine, do not let your torso and hips sag toward the ground or stick your butt in the air.


Belly fat PCOS plank

 Bodyweight Turkish get up

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  • Lie on your back on the ground and extent the right arm up so that the wrist is above the shoulder.
  • Bend the right knee so that the foot is flat on the ground and angled outward, close to right hip. Keep the left leg straight.
  • Raise right shoulder off of floor by rolling onto left elbow.
  • Sit up while pushing off on floor with left arm until arm is straight.
  • Lift hip off of floor and pull left leg under body.
  • Swing the left leg underneath your body so that the left knee is on the ground, and directly below the left hip.
  • Brace the core and and bring your torso upright so that your shoulder are directly above the hips.
  • Stand up by extending legs and placing rear leg next to forward leg.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, core taught and chest proud.
  • Inhale, bend your knees and flex the hips as you lower your seat back and down
  • Your knees and thighs should drive out to the side while your glutes contract. lower yourself until your thighs are at least parallel with the floor.
  • Exhale, keep your torso stiff and upright as you press the feet into the ground, extending knees and hips until you are standing again.
  • If you are ready for an extra challenge jump up to standing.


Bodyweight squat

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  •  Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, core taught and chest proud.
  • Inhale, bend your knees and flex the hips as you lower your seat back and down
  • Your knees and thighs should drive out to the side while your glutes contract. lower yourself until your thighs are at least parallel with the floor.
  • Exhale, keep your torso stiff and upright as you press the feet into the ground, extending knees and hips until you are standing again.
  • If you are ready for an extra challenge jump up to standing.


Belly fat PCOS squat

The inch worm

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  • Reach or squat down so that your hands are on the ground.
  • With a strong core “walk”  your hands out in front of you and extend your body until you’re in a plank position:
  • your hands should be slightly wider than shoulders width apart, your torso stiff with braced abs, do not stick your rear up in the air or let your hips sag toward the ground, the glutes should be firm. Hold for 2 counts.
  • Walk your feet up to meet your hands.
  • Repeat steps 1-3 till the interval is up.  Focus on engaging your core during the exercise.


Belly fat pcos Inch Worm

I don’t know about you but I really enjoyed reading Erika’s thoughts on how to get rid of that belly fat. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I have asked Erika to give us more exercise tips on a regular basis so look out for more articles from Erika in the future.

Have you tried any of these exercises or have any other suggestions for getting rid of that belly fat, we’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment below!

The PCOS Weight Loss Program Inclues:


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Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and PCOS expert who has been a leader in the online PCOS space for over 8 years. Tarryn has the support of leading clinicians from around the world who support her scientific approach to understanding and talking about PCOS this includes all medical journals and ongoing research. You can read more about Tarryn and the team here.

43 Responses

43 Responses

  1. Hlo sir….
    My sister is in same problem pcos… 4 years…. i have read this …. i am just trying to help her with this exercise… ….

      1. Tell me about it! I am borderline underweight, with forearms so small, I can almost touch my thumb and middle finger together around it, yet, I have a good couple of inches I can grab at the bottom of my belly!
        It is so fustrating!

  2. Thank you for the blog.I had been wondering why my belly fat isn’t gone after a month of exercising. I eat healthy. I didn’t know it was because of my PCOS. Hope these steps work 🙂

  3. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this website.
    I’m hoping to view the same high-grade content from you in the future as well.
    In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own website now 😉

  4. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after looking at some of the articles
    I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I discovered it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back

  5. Hi Erika
    I have been struggling with PCOS for many years – i was diagnosed in grade 12 and i am now finishing my 4th year of university. as the years progress, my situation seems to get worse. I am currently taking Glumetza (metformin) for insulin resistance) and have started on a diet that is dairy and mostly gluten free and still no results. Do you have any suggestions for me? Im quite desperate. Happy i found this website

    1. Hello Sarah,

      I am happy you found this site too! PCOS weight loss requires patience and consistency. You may not see results as quickly as you would like. It is hard to give you detailed advice based on the little bit of information you shared but here are my best tips for getting started:
      1. Follow a whole foods, low GI diet (like Tarryn recommends. ) And use potion control because you can overeat on healthy foods.
      2. Move every day but do not do an intense workout every day. 3 days a week do a workout that includes strength training and 3-4 days do some form of active recovery: instead of an intense workout go for a walk, an easy bike ride, or do gentle yoga.
      3. If you want to do cardio Keep your sessions short and intense like the workout above. You can read my article on HIIT for more details:

      Remember to be patient and kind to yourself! Creating healthy habits is a journey that will take a lifetime.

        1. Cardio actually increases the release of testosterone which is already high is PCOS women.

  6. Hi! I am at a frustrating point with my workouts. I go to the gym at least four days a week and stay active the rest of the week. I eat pretty healthily and really watch my carbs. I even had a trainer for a few months and she helped me mix up my workouts. I keep my heart rate up even while I do weights. But the more I workout, the more I gain. And I’m not talking muscle mass, but fat. None of my clothes fit because my belly fat keeps getting worse as long as my back. I am very discouraged. Yes I feel better but I don’t understand. I’ve been keeping this level of working out for a year now. I spend an hour at the gym. I’ve always been strong so my legs are very muscular but that’s about it. My arms are okay.

    Any suggestions?

      1. Ls,

        Use L-carnitine a half hour before your workout. It prevents you burn your muscels in stead of fat during workout. It also doubles the burning rate of fat. Hope this helps

      2. Michelle hi, i am sorry to hear tht! I think u shd try yoga. Given tht you ve been workin out for an year i suggest yoga will help you.but patience is the key. Yoga will initially help u keep the weights off. You wont gain any weight. And after momths of regular practise u ll notice changes. The point is yoga along woth breathing exercises will balnce your hormones and slowly corrects ur pcos related problem. You shd have a thyroid test taken. With patience n regular yoga practise and healthy food habits u can get back to normal.

    1. Michelle — we sound like the same person! I am absolutely the same, my legs are solid and I am so proud of them. I love showing them off with shorts and leggings, as well as I have small ankles. However, forget form fitting shirts. I have always had an average frame with a very athletic body, but since going off the pill after 12 years (TTC now), within 5 months I gained 30 lbs without changing A THING — still eating well and exercising. Gluten free, limited carbs, mainly all lean protein and veggies — I feel good, but I continue to gain! My stomach is just not in proportion with the rest of my body. I can hide it well because I choose the right clothes, but forget a bikini because I look like I’m 7 months pregnant (I WISH!). It’s just odd because I am not overweight per say because I carry a dense amount of muscle, but it’s very frustrating as we should be LOSING weight, especially if our big muscle groups ARE dense and toned! I’m with you and hope we can figure this out!

    2. Michelle,

      I’m sorry I did not see you comment earlier. The first thing you should do is evaluate the health of your metabolism. Ask your docotor to test for thyroid conditions and do a 2 hour fasting blood glucose test (this test is critcial as the other test for IR do not work very well for PCOS). If you have insulin resistance or a thyroid issue your lifestyle may not be able to get it under control and you might need some medications or supplements.

      The second step would be to keep a food journal for at least a week to make sure that your nutrition is on point. It is very easy to overeat without knowing it and our PCOS makes us sensitive to the slightest diet slip ups- ugh!

      Please me know how you are doing


  7. Hi Erika, I’m 16 years old and I found out I had pcos when I was 15. Unfortunately, it’s genetic. Anyways, I constantly get made fun of my weight. I’m 5’5 and I weight 157 pounds, I want to lose 38 pounds. I eat right, exercise, and I take metformin, but I still have a HUGE stomach and upper arm fat. I just wanna be skinny and healthy, most importantly, I wanna love myself and the way I look, do you know how I can lose 38 pounds with a workout that focuses on my mid section an d upper arms? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Mary,

      I am sorry you are being bullied. Focus on the people who love you for who you are- I am sure there are plenty! Anyone who spends their days picking on others is not worth a second thought.

      It sounds like you are still pretty new to exercise and PCS management. Will you do me a favor and sign up for my free PCOS and exercise email course here:

      This course will I’ve you some good basic information.

      Remember in the article how I explain that you can’t really target any area of your body for fat loss. What you can do is follow a diet and exercise plan that will allow your body to lose fat every where. I would recommend this ^^^ cardio program and perhaps a strength work out too. This program from my blog is a good strength workout for newbies:

      Or you could try my Just Start! Complete 30-day exercise program for women with PCOS:

      I hope that helps! Email me if you need more info!

    2. Mary,
      My name is Ashley, and I got diagnosed with PCOS when I was 19 and training for the Navy. I wasn’t getting the results I wanted with their workouts. What I found helped the most for my mid section was HIIT workouts. High intensity interval training. It lowers the length of time you need to spend in the gym and really helps burn off that mid section. Arms were a bit harder, the best advice I have for that is start doing push-ups every night, as many as you are capable of, and never stop. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but I guarantee if you add it to your nightly routine you will see a big difference over time.

      Also stick to the PCOS diet, especially no dairy or refined foods.

    3. Hey! We have similar problems. I found out I had PCOS in the summer after 6th grade. I am now 18 and graduated and have been on birth control to counter my symptoms since i found out. I run alot, and that keeps my weight maintained. I am 5’4 and 157 lbs.

  8. Hi there! I have PCOS and I am about 25lbs over weight – most of which resides on my abdomen and back. I feel like an egg on legs 🙁 Anyway, I just got a mini-trampoline, do you have any recommendations for a good workout for PCOSers to help reduce abdominal fat?

  9. Hello,

    I have had PCOS for the past 3 years but just recently got diagnosed. Before PCOS I was 9o lbs (5’2″), now I’m a little under 130 lbs and its all in my weight is in my mid section. I was wondering if I stick to a workout routine targeting the fat around my belly, will it come back as soon as I stop when I reach my expected results even if I eat healthy? Does having PCOS mean an individual will always have a bigger mid section (disporportional to the rest of the body)? I already eat healthy and did before being diagnosed, I never ate fast food as I still don’t. That is what raised a red flag as soon as everyone noticed my belly fat leading to my diagnosis.

    1. Alexis,

      It would depend upon your diet and activity level. If you gain weight, you will likely gain belly fat. Remember a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and a sensible diet (like the one on this site) are your best defense against regaining weight and other PCOS complications. Try to incorporate exercise into your life permanently so that you can enjoy the benefits throughout your life!

      1. I wonder if 20 minutes a day although it doesn’t sound much would cause muscle pain the next day for someone that does no exercise? ?

        1. Amy,

          The first few times you do this workout you may get some delayed onset muscle soreness. Don’t worry your body will adapt quickly!

  10. Shelly-Ann,

    Thank you for pointing this out the instructions for the Turkish get-up are missing their second half! So sorry! Here are the full instructions:

    Lie on your back on the ground and extent the right arm up so that the wrist is above the shoulder.

    Bend the right knee so that the foot is flat on the ground and angled outward, close to right hip. Keep the left leg straight.

    Raise right shoulder off of floor by rolling onto left elbow.

    Sit up while pushing off on floor with left arm until arm is straight.

    Lift hip off of floor and pull left leg under body.

    Swing the left leg underneath your body so that the left knee is on the ground, and directly below the left hip.

    Brace the core and and bring your torso upright so that your shoulder are directly above the hips.

    Stand up by extending legs and placing rear leg next to forward leg.


    Keep the right arm above your head, step back with your left leg and lower back down to a half kneeling position (position #6)

    Brace the core and place the left hand on the ground (position # 5)

    Keep you hips off the ground as you swing your left leg out in front of you so that you are in position # 4

    Lower your hips to the ground with control (position # 3)

    Lower your weight onto you left elbow (position # 2)

    Lay down on your back with control (position#1.)

    You have completed 1 repetition.

    This is a rather complex exercise. If you need more direction reply to this post 🙂

    This article goes over the exercise in incredible detail:

  11. Hi Erika,
    Just wondering about the Bodyweight turkish get up how is it done. Is it that you repeat steps 1-6 for a complete set? Can you explain thanks.


  12. Megan,

    Ouch! I am sure your surgery included a lengthy recovery.

    The important thing to remember is that belly fat is stored energy. Following a healthy low GI diet, like the one you find on this site, and exercising regularly will help you lose fat. Your bely fat may be the last fat to go but if you’re patient you’ll see results!

    Since you are at risk for hernias, You might need to see a physical therapist to help you recover some abdominal strength.

  13. Hi Erika,

    This looks great, i also have been in the wars. i have had large surgery and have a scar directly cutting down my belly, total of 58 staples, even though its healed it went completely through the muscle, i have also just had a hernia repair due to this surgery.

    Im worried i will never lose this belly fat, do you have any suggestions?

  14. Hi Erika just wondering if you have any suggestions on what I could do? I have sciatica both legs and I have a very bad back, as in a twisted spine, squashed vertebrae, degenerative disks. And I also have two pertruding disks.

    1. Suzanne,
      Ouch! I myself have some back troubles- I feel your pain!

      Your situation is more complicated and you’re smart to ask for additional advice. Has your doctor cleared you to workout? Which particular exercises cause you concern?

  15. Thanks for these suggestions! The Turkish getup and inch worm are difficult to do when you also have tendonitis. Do you have any recommendations for how to modify those?

    1. Karyne,

      Please let me know which joint you have tendonitis in and I will try to come up with an alternative exercise. Really any complex, multi-joint movement will do well as a substitute.

      1. It’s my wrists. It’s not a terrible case – it only flares up if I do a lot in plank on my hands versus forearm. I had to give up crocheting to fix it too.

        1. Yes I could see how those exercises could make your wrists flare up.

          Replace the inch worm with “dolphin planks”
          Dolphin Plank
          Lay on your bell with toes tucked and forearms on floor.
          Brace the core, and lift your hips into low plank position.
          Inhale and press the hips toward the ceiling so your body forms an inverted V
          Hold for a moment and then slowly return to starting position.

          The turkish get up is hard to replace because it hits so many muscle groups. Try skater jumps, they will get your heart rate up and they are a lateral movement so at least you are moving in a different plane of motion.

          Skater jumps
          Cross your left leg behind your right and lower into a half-squat, your right arm out to the side, left arm across your body.
          Leap to the left while  switching your legs and arms.
          Return to position one by leaping toward your right.

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