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3 Things That Do NOT Help You To Get Flat Abs

Guest post from Jonathan Dunsky

Guest poster, Jonathan Dunsky

Our pal, Jonathan Dunsky writes, runs, and reviews diet and exercise info. He asked to reach you, our Fun and Fit readers with his guest post, written especially for this site. While he is giving us the day off, we will be working on our Abs. Maybe…..

The desire to get a flat stomach is something that’s common to men and women everywhere. This is why you can find a variety of products and services that promise to help you get those coveted, sexy abs you’ve always wanted. It’s a market with money and, as in any such market, you can find a lot of useless products and misinformation that may only serve to waste your time and hard earned cash, not to get rid of your stubborn belly fat.

In this post I want to talk about 3 things which DO NOT help you to get flat abs. Once you know about them, you’ll be ready to invest your time and energy into what really works and your chances of getting flat, firm abs will be much greater.

First Culprit – Crunches

According to an article in Men’s Health Magazine, it takes 250,000 crunches to burn a single pound of fat. Let that number sink in for a moment: 250,000.

This means that if you do 500 crunches a day (and I don’t think you should), it will take you 500 days to burn one pound of fat. This is crazy and it goes to show you how ineffective crunches are at burning fat.

The notion that you can burn fat by doing targeted exercises is a false one. It’s called the spot reduction myth. You can’t decide where to burn fat from. Your body burns fat, some of it from your abs and some from other parts. Your goal is to simply burn more fat in total.

The problem with crunches is that they’re not very calorie expensive. This means that you don’t burn a lot of calories (and fat) by doing them. This is why it takes so many crunches to burn so little fat.

So, forget about crunches and sit-ups. They don’t really help you get flat abs.

Second Culprit – Ab Machines

Ab machines are one of the hottest fitness categories that you can find on shopping channels or in sporting goods stores. For instance, the Ab Circle Pro is reported to have sold over 2 million items. Crazy, but it goes to show you how people are desperate to get flat abs.

The problem with ab machines is similar to that of crunches: you can’t burn belly fat by doing targeted ab exercises. The bigger problem is that some of the ab machines cost a lot of money and create such big expectations that disappointment is almost certain.

The bottom line is that most ab machines don’t provide a more effective workout than regular abdominal exercises. This is why they are usually a waste of money.

Third Culprit – Ab Belts

These products have long been a mystery to me: I have no idea why anyone would buy them. Back in 2002, the Federal Trade Commission actually charged a few of these companies because their products were promoted with claims that these ab belts can produce the loss of fat or inches or provide the users with well defined abdominal muscles (full report here). Needless to say, these are unsubstantiated claims.

Ab belts can’t help you lose belly fat and they can’t help you lose inches. Physical therapists use them to treat people with severe muscle injuries or weakness. They do not provide sufficient resistance to develop your abdominal muscles or to burn belly fat.

What To Do Instead

If you want to get a flat stomach you need to burn off belly fat. This can only be done with hard work and it does take time. So, stop looking for gimmicks or shortcuts. You need to do total body workouts and intense cardio to get rid of belly fat. It won’t happen overnight, but it’s better to start soon… today even.

Jonathan Dunsky blogs at World Of Diets where he writes about fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle tips for a healthy and fit body.

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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15 Responses to 3 Things That Do NOT Help You To Get Flat Abs

  1. ian November 11, 2011 at 8:07 am #

    I think most people wake up in the morning after exercising the previous day and expect weight loss and want to see results.
    The reality is do the hard work, no gimmicks and stick with a regime that works and you will get results


    • AlexandraFunFit November 18, 2011 at 11:06 am #

      Oh, I would SO love to wake up and have the body I keep working to get. Wait, I do have that body – the trick is being realistic in our expectations. Good point.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Exercise Your Right to a Better BrainMy Profile

    • Clair Almonte December 6, 2011 at 2:39 am #

      Exactly Ian. Most of us want to see results too fast and when nothing changes after a week of hard work we give up. That’s where most of us fail and we blame the program, the fitness guru, the studio, the whole world just not ourself.

      Clair Almonte recently posted.. 3D Art is Back

  2. Calla Gold November 13, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    That is a lot of crunches to burn just one pound of fat! Good to know what doesn’t work, I’m looking forward to seeing what does!
    Calla Gold recently posted..Kim Kardashian’s Ring, Does She Keep it?My Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit November 18, 2011 at 11:08 am #

      And crunches are just plain silly. The aesthetic aspect is appealing, though. What works is just about everything else – basically if the exercise moves in the direction of the muscle and has a functional component!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Want Picture Perfect Posture? Part 2My Profile

    • Jonathan November 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

      What works is full body workouts. Train your entire body with intense weight lifting and resistance exercises and you will see a difference.
      Jonathan recently posted..6 Ways To Get Seriously Injured At The GymMy Profile

  3. Pamie November 14, 2011 at 3:49 am #

    There are no special diets, it is a matter of loosing the fat covering your abs. You need to cut calories while still eating a balanced diet. Ensure enough protein is eaten (1.2 – 1.6 grams per kg of bodyweight for a weight training person). For most people this can be achieved with normal food.

    Ensure that you maintain a good weight training routine to prevent muscle loss while cutting.
    Pamie recently posted..Authentic Murano Glass DrinkwareMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit November 18, 2011 at 11:11 am #

      hahah. There is a special diet, but it’s boring. It’s called, “Eat less than you expend if you want to lose weight, and eat healthfully.” See how catchy that is? And we love weight training here at the Fun & Fit ranch!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..4 Useless ExercisesMy Profile

  4. Amy November 14, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    Lots of core exercise (crunches, planks, side planks, half roll-backs, etc) will strengthen your belly muscles, but you won’t notice them much till you do lots of cardio to burn the fat!
    Amy recently posted..Time to Get Walking!My Profile

  5. Jonathan | World Of Diets November 18, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Thank you all for your comments.

    I wasn’t trying to downplay the importance of belly workouts, just make it clear that it’s impossible to get the very best results unless you also take care to burn off the most belly fat.
    Jonathan | World Of Diets recently posted..Five Workout Habits That Make You Look StupidMy Profile

  6. Peter November 21, 2011 at 12:30 am #

    Thanks for sharing this very useful article. It really opened my eyes because I won’t do 250.000 crunches for only a single pound. It is really great to know what doesn’t work but it would also be great to know what does work.

    Keep on the good work!
    Peter recently posted..Call teleconferenceMy Profile

  7. Mena December 1, 2011 at 5:14 am #

    Being apple shaped myself, I know just how hard it is to shift any belly weight. It’s always the last place I lose weight which is really really annoying. But yes the whole eat less, move more mantra is what I’ve been sticking to and it does work … eventually.

    I’ve got a love/hate relationship with doing the plank but I do appreciate the impact it has on my body and the importance of building core strength.
    Mena recently posted..How to Lose Pregnancy WeightMy Profile

  8. Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana December 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    Even after becoming certified as a personal trainer I still love different variations of crunches. I do lots of other core work too, but crunches do provide strength and definition. I never say never, although I agree that most people benefit from core work such as planks, dietary changes, and compound movements.
    Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana recently posted..Tired or Achy? How to Feel BetterMy Profile

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