Do Sit-ups Give You A Flat Stomach?

This miscopnception was the inspiration behind the title of my book, “From Flab to Fab” as it is a question i have been asked hundreds of times.

The false belief that performing hundreds of sit-ups every day in an effort to flatten the stomach is perhaps the most popular myth I have to deal with. The number of clients I have trained over the years who have begged me to put them through a 20-minute stomach workout to help shrink their waistline is staggering.

By performing sit-ups or ‘crunches’, as they are sometimes referred to, you are helping to strengthen and firm up the rectus abdominus muscle, more commonly known as the ‘six-pack’. Hundreds of sit-ups may well give your stomach muscles the strength to bounce bullets but crunches will do nothing to reduce the amount of fat you have on your tummy. Abdominal fat is there because of excessive calorie consumption, so the only way to get rid of it is to burn off the calories by following a balanced diet and performing high intensity exercise such as running, cycling, aerobics and swimming.

There is one trick, however, which can help to give the appearance of a flatter stomach, regardless (within reason) of how much abdominal fat you possess. Underneath the rectus abdominus lies a band of muscle called the transversus abdominus. Also referred to as the ‘corset muscle’, the transversus abdominus helps to keep the back strong and compresses the abdomen. By exercising this muscle regularly, it can help to improve your posture and make the stomach appear flatter even though you may not have lost a single pound.

To exercise the transversus, all you need to do are two things:

  1. Suck in your stomach, so your belly button is drawn towards your spine.

2. While your stomach is sucked in, do not hold your breath just keep breathing normally.

You will know that you are doing this properly when you begin to feel a minor burning sensation in the deep stomach. This is a sign that the transversus abdominus has been engaged and is being worked, just as the six-pack muscles are being worked while performing crunches.

Initially, this is hard to do as many people instinctively want to breathe in as they draw in the stomach, but with practice it gets easier. If you are still finding it difficult, try performing the method on your hands and knees. This technique is by no means a miracle cure but by performing it regularly, such as in the car, watching television or visiting the in-laws, it can help both to flatten your stomach and improve your posture.