The last fitness myth of our 10-part series concerns burning fat around the stomach and getting those abs to show. My own Facebook timeline reveals that many people are still convinced that sit-ups and crunches are all it takes to get a sculpted six-pack. If only it was so easy.
Myth 10 – Doing crunches will burn more fat.
As we discussed in several previous posts this last week, losing fat is a matter of burning more calories that you’re consuming. It’s the only way the body is able to use stored fat for energy and be burned.
Crunches and sit-ups assume a false belief that you can choose the part of the body you would like to burn fat from – that each muscle owns the fat that exists around it. If there was any truth to this, we would see individuals with extremely ripped up abdominals and fat arms, or ripped up legs and fat upper bodies. Fat accumulation and dispersion is a gradual process that occurs over the entire spectrum of a body. Spot reduction does not exist. In truth, crunches don’t even burn that many calories – even though they leave you sweating and feeling like you had a tough workout.
Every person has those “hard to lose places” and these are the spots that your fat accumulated way back when you started putting on body fat for the first time. Even though you can’t spot reduce, there are fat pockets in your body that are the first places to store fat and the last places to let it go. These spots are genetically defined. I’ve trained individuals who are under 10% body fat and still have a small pooch under their belly. They ask why they don’t lean out as much as someone else and this is the reason. Some people simply store the majority of their fat in one place and for guys that place is often under the belly and/or around the love handles. Some guys are fortunate enough to have a more even dispersal of fat stores – so they can be holding just as much fat as another but look leaner.
If you’re a guy who has a particular problem spot and you’re considering surgery, keep in mind that a tummy tuck will remove fat and get rid of fat cells in your problem area, but future fat stored will need a new home so more fat will be stored in the next favorite place. For guys, this can sometimes be the legs but many times, it gets stored in the jowls – making the face looking fleshier and fatter.
Don’t be discouraged that crunches won’t help to reduce body fat. Instead, be happy that you don’t have to spend countless nights doing thousands of situps in an attempt to lose fat. Losing fat is much easier than this. It simply requires a person to put down the spoon more often. As you eat less and move more, your body will use stored fat for fuel. Spend all that “crunch” time just getting outside and enjoying life. You’ll be burning fat without even working at it.