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Can I reduce belly fat with sit-ups?


Updated February 15, 2014

Question: Can I reduce belly fat with sit-ups?

Answer: Belly fat can be especially difficult to reduce. For many people, the abdominal area is where much of their excess fat is located; therefore, it typically takes a little longer to get rid of it. If you’re significantly overweight, this doesn’t make it impossible; you just have to be a little more patient.

Unfortunately, you can’t reduce the fat in your abdomen by doing sit-ups alone or by spot-reducing. With a combination of a healthy diet and two types of exercise, though, you will be able to reduce the fat in your abdominal area, strengthen your abdominal muscles and cause your abdominal area to appear flatter. This is accomplished by doing targeted toning exercise in conjunction with cardio exercise.

A popular, easy and effective ab exercise is the classic crunch. To do a classic crunch, lie on your back, put your feet flat on the floor and bend your knees. Loosely clasp your hands behind your head. Tilt back to flatten your back against the floor. Slowly curl your shoulders up from the floor about 30 degrees, making sure you don’t pull up on your neck. Hold for a second and then lower. Start out with two sets of 8 reps and gradually work up to 12 reps.

Learn More: How to Do a Perfect Crunch from About.com Exercise Guide, Paige Waehner

Getting down the perfect crunch is just part of the equation. Unless you do cardio to reduce the amount of abdominal fat — in addition to ab exercises — those newly toned muscles simply won’t be visible.

If you have a lot of weight to lose, that's where patience comes in. Depending on where you're at now, it could take many months or even a year or more to lose enough weight that you can actually see the defined muscles ab exercises create. Remember, patience pays: weight loss that is slow and steady (about one or two pounds a week) is far more likely to be permanent.

Learn More: Top 10 Most Effective Ab Exercises from About.com Exercise Guide, Paige Waehner


Fahey, Thomas D. et al. Fit and Well for Life. 7th Edition. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 2007.

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