Last updated on February 13th, 2023 at 04:45 pm
Have you noticed that your stomach gets cold when you work out?
I’ll reveal why this happens, as well as debunking the “fat-burning myth”.
The main reason that your stomach gets cold when working out is due to blood circulation, or lack of. Basically, blood will get directed to the muscles in the body that are being used or working the hardest. So, for most forms of exercise, whether cardiovascular or resistance, this usually means the extremities, such as the arms and legs. With that being said, if you’re carrying additional fat around your midsection you won’t get as much blood to that location during exercise.
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Blood Circulation During Your Workout
So, as I’ve mentioned, this cold sensation is actually down to blood circulation.
When you’re exercising, your muscles require more oxygen.
And this additional oxygen is transported to your muscles via your blood.
This is also why you’ll often experience that “pump” during exercise.
Let’s say you’re performing a high volume of bicep curls and especially if you’re training close to failure.
You’ll notice that even after you’ve finished working out your biceps appear larger.
This is simply because they require more oxygen to fuel the curls, so blood has literally rushed to this part of your body.
But, what does this have to do with a cold stomach I hear you ask?
Well, while you’re working out, whether cardiovascular or resistance training, there are various body parts that are working extremely hard.
In the main this will typically be the extremities, so your arms and legs.
However, a set of pull ups will definitely fire up the back muscles, as will the bench press for your pecs.
You’ll find that your arms are hot after your bicep workout, or blood is being directed towards your legs while you’re running.
Basically, the less blood that flows to your stomach during exercise, the colder it will “apparently” feel.
So, by the same token, if you’re doing an ab-specific workout then you may expect your midsection to be warmer than other parts of your body.
Although, most ab exercises do activate numerous other muscles in the body.
You’re Carry a Few Extra Pounds
I’m sorry to say it, but this could actually be a sign that you’re carrying a little extra fat around your midsection.
Basically, because there is a larger surface area (due to fat) you won’t be getting as much blood flowing to that specific location.
So, even if you’re performing a full-body workout that stimulates most of the major muscle groups in the body, blood will transport oxygen to the muscles first.
In effect, fat has to wait its turn.
In fact, after researching this phenomenon further via online fitness forums, a lot of people who experienced “cold stomach” stated that they were out of shape and carrying a few extra pounds.
Now, before you start panicking, this isn’t always the case.
As I’ve mentioned above, blood will flow to the muscles that need oxygen the most.
So, it is perfectly normal to experience a drop in temperature around the stomach area even if you’re sporting a six-pack.
However, you should be aware that it is far more likely to happen if you have extra fat around your stomach.
Does This Happen While Running?
One of the most common times to experience a cold stomach is while you’re running.
However, this is mainly down to the reasons I have already mentioned.
Yes, most regular runners will have a strong core, and this area of the body is definitely being worked while you run.
With that being said, your core isn’t work as hard as many of the other muscle groups in your body.
And of course it just happens that the largest muscle groups in the body, i.e. the legs, are putting in the most effort.
Your core will actually transfer heat to the various muscles in the legs while you run.
So, you’re likely to have very warm legs.
The same can also be said for the arms.
Even though we don’t specifically associate arm stimulation with running, they are certainly more active than the core.
Blood flow has a secondary task to perform during exercise, and this is to carry heat away from the muscles being worked.
This heat is transferred to the skin and then released from the body.
Therefore, the skin around the most active muscles will feel the warmest when you’re working out/running.
It Could Be Sweat
Something else to consider is that your stomach may not actually be cold, but more likely to be wet.
When we exercise, the body heats up.
And the body’s automatic reaction is to produce sweat.
However, sweat’s primary function is to cool the body down.
Or in reality, the body cools when sweat evaporates.
If the skin isn’t covered then sweat will evaporate into the environment.
But, let’s say that you’re wearing a t-shirt while you exercise then the sweat will evaporate onto your shirt.
I don’t know about you, but my shirt is typically soaked throughout during and after a workout.
So, in effect, my shirt is wet (from sweat) for a large part of my workout.
And often wetness can cause confusion and be perceived as cold.
Personally, I find that the wettest part of my t-shirt is towards the lower part of my front torso, i.e. near the stomach.
Don’t Believe the Fat-Burning Myth
I find it strange that so many people believe the following myth.
But, I have seen various online fitness blogs and forums mention this.
It is stated that if your stomach is cold to the touch then this means that you’re burning fat in this area.
Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true.
Firstly, it’s pretty much impossible to “feel” fat burning in the body.
Secondly, if this were true, you could simply sit down at home and point a fan at your stomach and miraculously lose pounds overnight.
As I have already explained, the cold sensation is simply that your blood is carrying oxygen to the muscles being worked the hardest.
Did You Know?
Therefore, don’t believe the cold stomach-fat burning hype.
Key Learning Points
- Blood will transport oxygen to the muscles that are working the hardest, often to the extremeties, i.e. the arms and legs. Therefore, it could simply be a case that your stomach is at a lower temperature than other parts of the body.
- A cold stomach during exercise could indicate that you’re carrying extra fat around your midsection.
- This often happens when running simply because blood and oxygen is being transported to the hardest working muscles once more, i.e. the legs.
- Sweat (and being wet) is frequently mistaken for being cold.
- A cold stomach does NOT mean that you are burning stomach fat. This is nothing more than a myth.
- So, as you can see, it is actually fairly common for your stomach to get cold when working out.
- The main reason for this is because blood is transporting oxygen to the muscles that are working the hardest during your workout.
Next, make sure you check out what I have to say about looking fatter after working out.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.