Sit Ups Don't Burn Belly Fat - The Myth Of Spot Training

Richard Kelly 23rd December 2019

‘My plan is to run on the treadmill for half an hour, then I’m going to do sit ups.  I only want to lose weight from my tummy.’

You’d be surprised how often I hear this, and especially after the new year.  Many people believe that simply by doing sit ups they can target the fat on their bellies and get a lean stomach or even a six pack.  And thanks to many magazines and Instagram ‘influencers’ they believe they achieve all of that in six weeks.

Whilst you can train a muscle specifically to increase strength, tone or size, you can’t target fat on the body to burn off.  This is called spot training and has been totally discredited, although it seems to come to the fore every year as various outlets and influencers push the idea. 

The reality, though, is very different. 

In order to lose weight you must be in a calorific deficit.  That means the amount of calories you burn has to be more than you consume.  So either your work has to increase, or your calories in need to reduce.  In this state the body will use stored energy on the body, or bodyfat, as fuel to make up the difference.  The body chooses to take this fat away from the most important areas first; around the organs and on the face and neck (away from the airways).  This is why initial weight loss isn’t always visible, as it is internal, and then comes away from the face.

For women the next place weight normally comes off of is the stomach.  For men that is the last place.  That being said, although for women it does come off of the stomach early on, it won’t exclusively burn off of there first.  It is simply the site where body fat is reduced most, as you’ll see a general reduction across the body.

Exercises like sit ups, that work the abdominal sheet, might help increase the tone of the muscles on the abs and the size of the abdominals, but they will not reduce the body fat in that area.  The benefit of doing sit ups for ascetic purposes is apparent only when you are lean enough that the abs become visible.  For men that is around 10 percent body fat, whilst for women that is around 20 percent. 

Spot training has been around for over one hundred years.  If you’ve ever seen the pictures of those machines from the 1920s, that involve putting a rubber band around your midsection as it tries to rub the fat away, then you probably won’t be surprised to learn that spot training as a concept has been around since at least then.  Despite this it is a myth that refuses to die.  Many people stubbornly believe in it, even though there is zero proof anywhere that it has a positive benefit. 

No where is this more apparent than with ab training.  Despite all the evidence to the contrary people still believe that sit ups and ab exercises will cause the fat to melt away and the abs to emerge toned and strong.  Don’t fall for it!  In order to get the toned and defined stomach you want you first must get into a calorific deficit, and then focus on strengthening the core.  A strong core will encourage a defined and prominent abdominal sheet, giving you the stomach you want.  After that it is time to define the midsection. 

RK Fitness offers a comprehensive programme for core training, called Ab-Solution, available for a small fee and running through weight loss, strengthening and toning and defining phases as part of the programme, all for £64.99!

For more help with core training emailed today!






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