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Do Sit-Ups Burn Belly Fat? 4 Facts You Really Need to Know

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 19, 2022

Although I think I'm at my peak fitness performance, my fitness journey hasn't always been smooth, and my results were laughable when I started.

My primary motivation was losing belly fat, and I spent weeks browsing through research papers and talking to my dietician to see if sit-ups can aid in burning belly fat.

I have composed this piece to share the knowledge I obtained and my experience with sit-ups and belly fats.

Keep on reading to see if sit-ups are an ideal workout to attain this goal.

Quick Summary

  • Sit-ups target the abdominal muscles and strengthen the core.
  • Sit-ups burn calories far more quickly compared to many other workouts.
  • High-intensity workouts plus a calorie deficit diet are the most effective ways to burn fat and have a flat stomach.
  • You should avoid high sugary foods and beverages to lose fat quicker.

Which Muscles Do Sit-Ups Work On?

Group of women performing sit ups

Sit-ups work on hip flexors, rectus abdominis (six-pack abs muscles), obliques (side abs), transverse abdominis (deep core muscles), and lower-back muscles.

Ab curls may target your chest and neck depending on the sit-up variation and technique. While lifting your whole torso off the ground, the neck and hip flexors are engaged.

Unlike crunches or static abdominal exercises, ab curls target more muscles because of their extensive range of motion.

What I discovered is that sit-ups helped me build a stronger core and strengthen my athletic performance, but they hardly burned enough daily calorie intake to reduce my overall body fat or lower body weight.

Will Sit-Ups Help Reduce Belly Fat?

No, ab curls will not help reduce belly fat. Instead, sit-ups will strengthen your core muscles.

The truth is that targeted fat loss or spot fat reduction is a myth because you can't eliminate fat from specific body parts [1].

Working a specific area of your body to spot-reduce fat doesn't mean you'll lose fat in that area; our bodies simply don't work that way.

The key to losing weight or attaining a flat belly is losing fat everywhere or rather on your entire body.

It all boils down to your exercise routine, exercise intensity, balanced diet, and consuming fewer calories.

Ab curls and other core workouts tone the abdominal fat and won't burn the abdominal fat.

However, a proper abdominal workout will improve the look of your belly and give you a nicer-looking belly, but without reducing the excess fat stored in that area.

Therefore, if you need to perform sit-ups, I'd suggest making them part of your fitness routine. But don't treat them as the primary workout for fat burning.

Related Articles:

4 Benefits of Sit-ups and Core Workouts

Man doing sit ups close up image

Sit-ups are simple and efficient core exercises that are usually applied in workout regimens. The benefits of sit-ups and other core workouts are:

1. Core Strength

Core strength is among the most potent motivators for performing sit-ups. You may reduce the likelihood of back injury and pain by strengthening, toning, and tightening your core [2].

2. Improves Body Flexibility And Control

Sit-ups induce motion in the backbone, which softens the spinal column and hips and makes them flexible.

It enhances blood flow, raises energy levels, and improves muscular mobility by alleviating stress, tension, and stiffness [3].

3. Athletic Performance

A man in a starting position for running

Athletes with strong core muscle tissue have increased physical endurance and power.

A strong core enables you to maintain proper posture, balance, and form while participating in any exercise or sport. You'll also be less prone to being fatigued.

4. Burns Calories

Due to its direct effect on numerous areas of your body, sit-ups burn calories much faster than many other exercises.

The number of calories burned depends on age, gender, body weight, and activity intensity. The more muscle you gain, the more calories you burn.

"Doing sit-ups at a moderate intensity for 10 minutes without rest burns as much as 60 calories."

- Steven Langdon, fitness coach

Any training, however, is helpful to your physical body. And, as with any other workout, the sole reason you should do ab curls for weight loss is to burn calories and maybe build muscle, resulting in a greater total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) [4].

The Right Way To Lose Visceral Fat

A woman wrapping herself with measuring tape

High-intensity interval training and a balanced diet are the best strategies to reduce body fat and acquire a flat tummy.

Consider doing the following if you want to lose weight and burn more belly fats rapidly:

FAQs

Will Sit-Ups Get Rid Of Belly Fat?

No, sit-ups will not get rid of belly fat. Instead, they tighten your core and work on your abdominal muscles.

What Abdominal Exercise Program Burns The Most Belly Fat?

The abdominal exercise that burns the most belly fat is crunches.

Will 20 Sit-Ups A Day Tone My Stomach?

No, 20 sit-ups a day won't tone your stomach but will increase your core strength.

Why Is Belly Fat The Last To Go?

Belly fat is the last to go because of its alpha receptors, which are stubborn to eliminate [6].

What Foods Cause The Most Stomach Fat?

The foods that cause the most stomach fat are sugary food and beverages.

Belly Fat and Sit-ups

Sit-ups are a great workout to strengthen your rectus abdominus muscles. They aid in burning more calories compared to other exercises. However, sit-ups alone won't burn belly fat.

That’s why it’s best to pair your sit-up workout with the following recommended fat-burners:

Having tested these supplements on my clients and myself over the past year, I can attest to their effectiveness but keep in mind that they’re not magic pills. Monitoring your calorie intake will still be one of the biggest game changers if you want to lose weight on your tummy.


References:

  1. https://www.yalescientific.org/2011/04/targeted-fat-loss-myth-or-reality/ 
  2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/strong-core-best-guard-back-pain/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19812508/
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Components-of-total-daily-energy-expenditure-TDEEBMRbasal-metabolic-rate_fig1_260397860
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/probiotics-and-weight-loss
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1345885/

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