It's a common misconception that grunting through situp after situp will give you the bikini body you've long desired. And while this type of exercise is an effective way to enhance your abdominal muscles and possibly help you achieve a six-pack look, the exercise alone won't likely be enough unless you include other types of exercise and make diet changes.
To perform a situp, lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor and your fingers interlocked behind your head or neck. Bend at the hips and lift your upper body off the floor until you reach a seated position, and then slowly lower your body back down. If you have trouble keeping your feet planted, hook them under a heavy object or have a workout partner hold them down. Situps are different than crunches; in the latter exercise, you engage your abdominal muscles just enough to lift your shoulders and upper back off the floor.
As is the case in exercises such as crunches and planks, the target muscles of a set of situps are your rectus abdominis, more commonly known as your abs. These muscles appear in the center of your abdomen and are the muscles that are evident when someone has a six-pack. The supporting muscles in a situp include the obliques, iliopsoas and a number of muscles in your legs.
A workout regimen that focuses on situps will build your abdominal muscles, but if you carry fat in this area, this exercise won't result in a flat stomach. Two common ways to burn calories to lose fat are aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Aerobic exercises include jogging, cycling, jumping rope and playing sports such as soccer, while anaerobic exercises include sprinting and weight training. Although anaerobic exercises are short, they're more intense and can lead to increased metabolism long after you're finished working out.
Diet and Considerations
Exercise is an effective way to help make your stomach flatter, but if your diet is poor, you're unlikely to see the results you desire. To lose a pound of fat, a person must burn 3,500 calories beyond what she eats, which is difficult if you consume a high-calorie diet. Focus on combining low-calorie, healthy foods with situps and aerobic or anaerobic exercise to flatten your stomach. Always consult your doctor before adopting a new workout regimen or making significant dietary changes.
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.