Myth Busters – 1. Doing sit-ups will reduce my belly fat and tone my stomach

by Andy Buckle in Education | Training

This is a very common misconception and one that personal trainers have been asked for years. A lot of confusion occurs through most peoples understanding of the word ‘toning’. In terms of aesthetic adjustments to your body the two most important factors are body fat percentage and muscle development. We are all made up of the same muscular system as each other, however the body fat percentage and muscular development differs from person to person. In relation to sit-ups and belly fat, everyone has the muscles that make up a six pack but in majority of people they are not visible due to a layer of body fat that sits between the muscle and the skin. When it comes to body fat percentage, nobody can choose which part of their body they reduce fat from, this is a myth that is known as ‘spot reduction’.


The two things that can be done in order to enable a person to have the mid-section they desire is to reduce the body fat that is covering the abdominal muscles and develop the muscles themselves. Even though we cannot reduce fat from specific areas of our body we can reduce the overall body fat percentage. This is mainly done through a calorie-controlled diet and an increase in cardiovascular exercise. The distribution of fat throughout our bodies depends on many factors but mainly it comes down to genetics. It is always important to remember that men and women store fat differently. Women naturally have a higher level of body fat then men and the distribution of storage is also different. Men typically store fat in their abdominal region (belly and lower back), whereas women tend to store more fat in their buttocks, hips, lower abdominals, and thighs.


When it comes to developing the abdominal muscles themselves, this is where the sit-ups come into play. Sit-ups are a great exercise that will strengthen the abdominal muscles and develop overall core strength. Doing hundreds and hundreds of sit-ups might sound like a plan to get the mid-section you have always wanted but there is a much better way of getting there. Like all areas of your body there are plenty of ways you can train your mid-section and achieve a developed set of abdominals. Always make sure you train a variety of exercises to ensure you do not create a muscular imbalance. The main three main movements possible for the abdominals are trunk flexion, hip flexion, and rotation. Below are some examples of each of these three movements that you can include in your training programme.


Never forget that perfectly developed abdominals may be the desire of most people, but your core does not only include these muscles and you must always train to be functional as well as looks. Never neglect the posterior muscles (on the back side of our bodies) and always include trunk extension and hip extension exercises in your programme!! This way you will achieve the looks you have always wanted and lead a longer and more functional life.