Do Sit Ups Really Help You Lose Belly Fat?

Situps help strengthen your core.
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If you want to lose your belly, situps might seem like a natural solution. But the fact is that situps don't specifically target and eliminate that stubborn belly fat. While situps can help burn some fat and tone up your midsection, other exercises are better when you want get rid of your gut.

Truth about Spot Reduction

    If you want to do an exercise that will specifically burn the fat from your stomach, you're out of luck. The idea of spot reduction -- reducing fat on specific parts of the body -- is a myth. As physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Sheila Dugan, M.D. puts it, "You can't reduce fat from specific parts of your body by exercising that body part; our bodies simply don't work that way." So doing tons of situps is not the way to go if want to melt away your belly fat.

Fat Burned from Situps

    While doing situps won't target your belly specifically, it can help you lose fat in general. Doing situps at a moderate intensity for 10 minutes will burn 51 calories if you weigh 150 pounds, while doing them vigorously will burn 92 calories in 10 minutes. If you weigh less than 150 pounds, then you can expect to burn fewer calories -- and if you weigh more, you'll burn more calories. You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a single pound, which means that you would need to do approximately 11 hours and 26 minutes worth of situps to burn just 1 pound of fat.

Better Alternatives

    In an article on the University of Missouri Extension's website, exercise physiologist Stephen Ball states that the best exercises to lose belly fat, or any fat for that matter, are aerobic exercises, which are activities that involve large muscle groups and deliver oxygen quickly and efficiently to every part of the body -- like bicycling, jogging or running. Running at a speed of 10 mph, for instance, will burn 204 calories in just 10 minutes if you weigh 150 pounds -- which means you'd burn a pound of fat after running for approximately 2 hours and 52 minutes.

Advantages of Situps

    While situps don't target the fat on your belly and they're not the best option for losing fat overall, they do offer benefits for your health and physique. Doing situps will strengthen your core and build your abdominal muscles. Having more muscle will increase the amount of calories that your body burns, which will help you burn fat. Also, building your abdominal muscles will firm up your stomach, helping to create the sculpted look you want -- once the fat is gone.

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