Will sit-ups give me abs?
It’s an age-old question for anyone starting out and wanting to get in shape. Will exercising a certain body part cause me to lose fat in that area? The short answer is no, unfortunately not.
The human body is a complicated organism and much as we’d like too, we can’t chose where we lose body fat.
It seems to make sense: you want to get rid of trouble spots on your thighs, so you take up jogging. Carrying some excess baggage around the midsection? Must be time to do more sit-ups and a few planks for good measure. But that just isn’t the case.
Exercising a body part will work the muscle fibres underneath the layer of fat but unfortunately wont touch the fat cells. Unless you’re doing enough exercise/eating the right food to go into a calorie deficit you wont be losing any fat at all.
For your body to burn fat as fuel, a complicated set of processes must first take place.
Fat is stored in our cells as triglycerides, but in order for your muscles to use it, your system needs to break it down into free fatty acids and glycerol, which are transported into your bloodstream to then be used as fuel.
To reduce body fat you need to be burning more calories than you're consuming.
The fat being used comes from anywhere and everywhere in your body, not the area you're working at the time.
Studies on targeted fat loss date back to as far as the early 1970s, when University of California researchers compared the limbs of tennis players.
They discovered that despite the athletes being one-arm dominant, the subcutaneous (top layer) fat percentage between limbs was the same.
The University of Connecticut conducted a study in 2007 using resistance training and got a similar result.
Where your body loses fat from first comes down to your gender, genetics and body shape. Some people are apple-shaped (store fat around the midsection), some are pears (store fat around the waist and bum). Exercising areas around this won’t increase fat loss in those areas. The only way you can achieve that is dropping your total body fat percentage.
To find out what your body needs check out our macro nutrition calculator here.