Carrying fat around your chest can be an embarrassing problem to face, and if summer is just around the corner, it's time to tackle this problem head-on before you start wearing tank-tops and bathing suits. Situps are a simple way to build muscle, but they won't burn chest fat as quickly as aerobic exercises.
Don't be tricked into the common misconception that working out a specific part of your body will help you burn fat in that area. While exercise does burn fat, you'll receive the benefits throughout your body rather than in the area of concentration. This false concept is called spot reduction and infomercials marketing devices that claim to burn fat in a specific part of your body perpetuate the misconception. An extra reason that situps won't burn chest fat is that they don't target this part of your body.
Situps are an effective exercise to help you keep fit or get in shape without having to leave your home. To perform one, lie on your back, bend your knees and hook your toes under a heavy object; during a home workout, using the couch is ideal. Link your hands behind your neck so that your elbows are pointing away from your shoulders. Contract your abs, lift your chest toward your knees and then lower yourself back to the ground to complete one rep.
The key to burning fat is to burn more calories than you consume. When you're able to create this calorie deficit, expect to see weight-loss results. Because a pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you eat and drink to lose a pound of fat. MayoClinic.com suggests aiming for a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day to lose a pound per week.
Situps will help you burn calories, but the exercise burns calories at such a slow rate that if you're eager to lose fat around your chest, an aerobic workout is a better use of your time. According to HealthStatus, a 165-pound person who spends 20 minutes doing situps at a moderate pace will burn 112 calories. If the same person runs for 20 minutes at 8 miles per hour, she'll burn 336 calories. When adding aerobic exercises to your workout routine, aim for at least 150 minutes per week, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- American Council on Exercise: Q: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- ExRx.net: Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- Go Ask Alice: How Many Calories Does it Take to Lose One Pound?
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- HealthStatus: Calorie Burn Calculator
- ExRx.net: Sit-Up
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.