Magazine article USA TODAY

Sit-Ups Do Not Reduce Belly Fat

Magazine article USA TODAY

Sit-Ups Do Not Reduce Belly Fat

Article excerpt

With all of the gadgets and gizmos available that promise six-pack abs, you might think we should be a nation of strapping Adonises. The current U.S. obesity epidemic would indicate otherwise. Sit-ups and crunches will tighten your abdominal muscles, but you still will have the same layer of fat sitting on top of those muscles, points out exercise physiologist Stephen Ball of the University of Missouri, Columbia.

"Exercise equipment manufacturers mislead us with flashy infomercials showing beer bellies transforming into defined midriffs with the use of simple devices--usually in just minutes a day."

Researchers have demonstrated that spot reduction leaves our spots unreduced. For instance, the American Council on Exercise compared fat deposits in the arms of high-level tennis players. If spot reduction worked, the playing arm would have less fat than the inactive arm. The investigators found more muscle in the athletes' playing arm, but there was no difference in the fat deposits between the two arms.

"Doing those types of exercises will strengthen those muscles," Ball confirms. "You will build muscles there, but you're likely not losing body fat in that area. …

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