Do Sit Ups Reduce Belly Fat: Fitness Myths

Do Sit Ups Reduce Belly Fat: Fitness Myths

“Do sit ups reduce belly fat?” Just recently, I was asked this question. I’ve been thinking about an article like this for a while and was sparked to write about some of the myths in fitness. 

Why do so many fitness myths still seem to circulate as fact in our world?

In years past, it was much harder to get information on better fitness and training. We needed to spend time doing research or buy magazines. If we were lucky enough, we might have a friend experienced in fitness that gave us free advice. 

Now, we can have all the information we need by jumping on the web and searching quickly. Yet, year after year, people buy products and programs that will provide them no results except a lot of wasted time and less money in their wallets. 



Martial Arts led me to my interest in fitness.


I wanted to get better at my craft, faster, stronger, and have better cardio abilities. This has helped me in my abilities and has also helped me with coaching and training clients.  I grew to understand better the WHY behind my actions and how to improve and make more efficient WHAT I was doing. 

Many people get into Martial Arts for more than just the Martial Skill aspect, which is just to know how to fight better.  From my experience, I find that more people get involved with Martial Arts for the fitness aspect and see it as a long-term goal to get in shape. They want to be a part of a program they’ll enjoy and will stick with. 



The ability to better defend themselves and the confidence they get from being in better shape is just a secondary bonus.  Between students and clients, I get asked many fitness-related questions about nutrition and getting in shape. In the fitness and exercise world, what you don’t know CAN hurt you! At a minimum, you’ll waste your time and effort with little to no results.

I wanted to point out a few common ones I often come across. 


Crunches And Sit Ups Will Give You 6 Pack Abs

Do sit ups reduce belly fat?

Unfortunately, you can do 100s of sit ups and crunches a day and never achieve a flat stomach or the 6 pack abs you are looking for. How you lose fat from your belly is by trimming the fat on your entire body. With sit ups and crunches, you are strengthening your ab muscles. Losing the layer of fat over them is an entirely different process. (see the next myth)


You Can Spot-Reduce Fat

Just like trying to do sit ups to reduce belly fat, you can’t do 100s of tricep curls to trim the fat off your arms. To start losing fat, you need to trigger the metabolic effects necessary to burn fat. Focusing on one muscle group, such as the abs or the triceps will be too isolated. This is not significant enough to create the fat burning and results you desire. 


Deep Squats Are Bad For Your Knees

There’s not a lot of evidence available that correlates to linking squats to knee pain. In fact, squatting with knees over toes is a bio-mechanically safe motion to do. When squatting, it is very important to use a proper weight for your ability. This will allow you to perform a full range of motion. I like to get very deep on my squats, It feels much more comfortable to me and my body motion as demonstrated in a Heavy Bag Workout Routine


The More You Sweat The More Calories You’ve Burned

Sweat is a biological response that regulates internal body temperature by releasing water and salt, which evaporates to help cool you down. Sweating does provide a benefit of healthier skin by allowing oxygen and nutrients to circulate and nourish skin cells. This does not, however, translate to burning more calories.

I love to sweat as much as possible when I work out. 

One of the things I enjoy is closing the garage door in the middle of the summer and having a hard workout, and sweating almost literal puddles on the floor. I feel cleansed physically, mentally, and spiritually but I have not burned any more calories or lost any additional fat from sweating. 


You Need Electrolytes After Every Workout

We are bombarded daily with TV commercials and ads that tell us we need plenty of electrolytes to replenish our bodies after a workout. The reality is, however, plain old water can get you through most workouts. Most times, the extra sugar in those drinks will impede the fat-burning process. Hindering the results you are most likely looking for.

Electrolyte-fueled sports drinks are more beneficial for long sessions or intense cardio workouts that last an hour or more. 


A Fat-Free Diet Is Great For Your Health

Fat is one of the essential macro-nutrients that our bodies require to function.  There is not just one type of fat, and there are differences in the fats your body may consume. Avocados, salmon, and many other foods will provide your body with healthy fats that you need to survive. 

There are also unhealthy fats that you will get from the fried foods at your local fast food diner. These fats need to be limited if not cut out of your diet completely. Heart disease, cancer, and obesity are just some of the many health concerns from the overconsumption of these fats.

Perhaps good fat vs. bad fat is a newer concept for you.

If you want to learn a little more about what you are putting in your body, Foods and Fit have an easy-to-understand article called Is Fat Really Bad For You



I know there are many more fitness myths out there.

What other myths have you heard or seen in the gym?


  1. John

    Oh, this is very good because I must say that I am also one of those people who is guilty of the offence of this myth especially the one relating to sit ups being able to aid the biceps. I keep doing this but didn’t know that I also had to trim the fat abouve the muscles. Is there a way I can do that. Do you have any tips for me?

    1. lgoupil

      Thanks for the positive feedback John! 

      In regards to your question about “trimming the fat”, in general to lose fat you need to trigger the metabolic effects to do so. 

      Good diet, the right program, ect. 

      Honestly, without going over an assessment with you, knowing what you are currently doing, and evaluating it’s hard to give you a specific tip. 

      Everyone is different and age, fitness levels, lifestyle, and a host of other factors play into creating a program for each individual to see success. 

  2. SailingAway

    Great list. I was lucky enough in high school to learn most of these because I had a diligent gym teacher who really wanted us students to know the truth about exercise. Another one I always hear is about how you shouldn’t work out on an empty stomach, but research shows that you burn more fat if you work out before breakfast. And drink plenty of water.

    1. lgoupil

      Thanks for commenting! 

      Working out on an empty stomach before breakfast is definitely something that’s been gaining in popularity. 

      I’m not sure what I think about that subject  yet.

      I’ve read multiple articles and have talked about this with people I respect and I know are  more knowledgeable than I am on this topic and get different points of view. 

      I’ve tried it myself and can’t say I saw any results either way. 

      I tend to fall back on that every BODY is different, and what might work for me won’t necessarily work for the next person. 

      Excellent feedback and thanks again 

  3. Russ Green

    What an incredibly interesting read this post is, you have certainly educated me here, I have always believed that if you do loads of sit ups regularly you will get toned muscles or 6 pack, but I never really put a great deal of thought into it, I just heard it said years ago and just believed it to be so, I have also always believed that the harder you work the more you sweat so the more calories are used, but as you point out that one isn’t so either, I have bookmarked your website and I will be coming back for more, thank you for sharing.  

  4. Nate MC

    I agree with this list. Especially the myth about needing electrolytes after every single workout. I have been training for over 15 years and water has always done the trick for me. And I still come across so many people that believe the way to a flat/ripped stomach is doing ab workouts. I’m a fan of ab workouts, but it’s burning overall body fat that gets the stomach most people want. 

    1. lgoupil

      Thanks Nate

      I have to tip my hat off to the marketing efforts of Gatorade and those companies. 

      I’m looking right now from the office in my gym and I think at least half the members seem to have some kind of sports drink. 

      Some of them have clear bottles but the liquid is colored so I’m assuming they’ve added something to it. 

  5. Dane

    Hello there, thanks for sharing this post. This is quite funny to me, because I believe in some of these myth. So many people do not really understand the basis of some exercises that’s why it comes like that. I was once involved in crunches and sit up all to reduce belly fat, but in the end I realize I was having abs and my lower belly had some fat. The reason for this is as a result of not knowing very well the usefulness of some exercises.

  6. Tracy

    Wow! You have really done justice to thiese myths surrounding fitness and the self believed superstitious sayings that swirls around fitness. You did really unveil some facts and interesting points here that if I never read about, would have never believed was in existence. Thumbs up on this article. Thanks to you

    1. lgoupil

      Thank you, I appreciate the positive feedback.  

      I want to tackle more of these items in the future, majority of us want to workout and get in better shape. 

      The problem (outside of commitment) is a lot of people aren’t knowledgeable and spend money on useless products and programs with little or no results and quit. 

  7. dreamgirl93


    You are right that these days it is so much easier to find all the information int the world that you want. 

    I like to exercise a lot, especially running but I never had tried martial arts. 

    Is martial arts so active that you can lose weight doing it? Do you need someone to find with or you can also practice it yourself as a form of exercise? 

    1. lgoupil

      Thanks for your comment. 

      Yes, you can certainly lose weight from Martial Arts, depending on your school and program it can be very intense. 

      Take a look at some of the men and women in the UFC! 

      For sparring and a lot of drills it is necessary to have a partner, but you can certainly accomplish a lot of Martial Arts training on your own. 

      Bag work, shadow boxing, Katas and forms, just to name a few to start with. 

  8. Michel

    Thank you for clearing up some of these myths for me. I knew about the fact that energy drinks, while you are exercising and trying to lose weight, are not a good thing, but I was sure that doing 100 crunches every day would rid me of the belly fat.

    It makes sense though that you have to follow a sensible eating plan as well as do your exercises for maximum results. Sweating is great and makes you lose weight temporarily, but once you rehydrate with a glass of water, the weight is back again.

    1. lgoupil

      Thanks for reading 

      I run into the sweat one a lot at my gym. 

      Some people feel they are burning more calories sweating, also I often see people weighing themselves after getting out of the sauna. 

      For some I think it just might be a mental thing to see themselves weighing less on the scale, even if it’s just temporarily until they drink a glass of water. 

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