There are plenty of exercises that you can try out if you want to get abs and lose belly fat. Among them, the most popular is performing sit-ups.
Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of fitness or a seasoned veteran, situps will always be a big part of any training program. Many people spend hours at the gym performing that exercise in the hopes of getting a toned set of six-pack abs.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Performing hundreds of sit-ups every day might not yield the results you desire. In such a situation, many people assume that they are simply not doing enough. That leads to an important question – how many sit-ups should I perform each day?
In this article, we’ll find out exactly that.
How Many Sit-Ups Should I Do a Day?
Generally, performing 50-100 sit-ups each day should help you produce efficient results. You can divide the total into different sets of 20-30 repetitions each.
The answer also largely depends on your specific goals. Some people want to lose weight by performing this exercise, others do it for abs.
In any case, spending a large chunk of your workout time on just sit-ups will not be of much help. That’s because core exercises like this one are meant for toning your muscles and don’t actually burn a lot of calories or fat.
Simply performing sit-ups will not help you get abs or flatten your stomach unless you reach abnormally high repetitions every day (which is not possible). They are only good for building core strength and improving muscular endurance.
Sit-ups can be used to get flat abs and lose belly fat only if they are performed in rotation with other well-rounded exercises. In some cases, even that might not be enough. You will need to supplement your training program with a healthy diet plan.
The combination of all these factors will make sit-ups produce efficient results. Alone, the simple resistance exercise will only target the rectus abdominis muscles, the internal and external obliques, and the transverse abdominis, to strengthen your core.
Do Sit-Ups Help Lose Belly Fat?
No, sit-ups alone cannot help you get rid of stubborn belly fat. Moreover, spot reduction is not possible. However, they can help accelerate the process (by a small margin) if you perform sit-ups alongside a well-defined workout program for weight loss and a proper nutrition plan.
To lower your overall body fat percentage, you need to be in a state of calorie deficit. Unfortunately, sit-ups are not very popular for burning calories. That’s because they are a type of resistance exercise and not aerobic exercise.
To give you some perspective, the general rule of thumb says that you need to be in a state of caloric deficit of about 3,500 calories if you want to burn off one pound of fat. This number is not absolute and can vary based on different factors.
A 150-pound person performing sit-ups will burn about 4-5 calories per minute if the intensity of the workout is moderate (20 repetitions per minute). To burn 3,500 calories, the person will have to perform between 15,000 and 17,500 sit-ups in a week. That amounts to around 2,000 sit-ups every day to lose a single pound of fat in 7 days.
Based on these calculations, it’s fair to say that sit-ups are not very effective when it comes to losing weight or burning fat. But they can definitely be incorporated into a larger training/diet program designed for reducing belly fat.
How Many Calories Do Sit-Ups Burn?
Generally speaking, sit-ups don’t burn a lot of calories. As a form of resistance exercise, their main purpose is to strengthen the core and abdominal muscles instead of burning belly fat and calories.
The total number of calories that you can burn while performing sit-ups will depend on your body weight and the intensity of the exercise.
That’s because the more a person weighs, the more energy it will require for them to move their bodies and complete the range of motion.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, performing 100 sit-ups at a moderate pace (20-30 repetitions per minute) will have the following effect:
- For individuals weighing 125 pounds: 5 – 27 calories will be burned.
- For individuals weighing 155 pounds: 7 – 31 calories will be burned.
- For individuals weighing 185 pounds: 20 – 40 calories will be burned.
Pro Tips for Fast Results
Sit-ups can be quite effective if you want to build core strength and tone your abdominal muscles.
However, many people are unknowingly doing it wrong.
Here are some fool-proof tips to improve your sit-ups and build a strong set of abs:
Use Muscles, Not Momentum
Proper technique can determine the results of your workout routine. Pushing hundreds of sit-ups every day while using an incorrect form or technique will not yield any desirable outcomes. Instead, it might even increase the risk of injuries.
One of the common mistakes that people make in sit-ups is using the momentum to push their torsos up instead of using their abs muscles. To fix this, make your movements slow and controlled. If you’re not using your muscles to bring your body up, your core will not get activated, and your workout will be useless.
Contract the Target Muscles
There is an effective method for contracting your target muscles (abs) while performing a sit-up.
All you need to do is exhale, tense up your abdominal muscles, and push your belly button inward toward the spine while you lift yourself up.
This posture contracts the target muscles and increases activation.
To determine the number of repetitions according to your fitness level, perform as many sit-ups as you can in 120 seconds.
Then divide the number by three. The resulting number will be your basic repetition count. Each workout should include three sets of this number of repetitions.
Set a new baseline every 2-4 weeks to constantly challenge your core and abdominal muscles.
Loosen Tight Hip Flexors
People with tight hip flexors tend to use their hip muscles to pull themselves up during sit-ups instead of engaging their abdominal muscles.
The only workaround to this problem is to loosen your hip flexors so that you can recruit more ab muscles while working out.
Avoid Processed Foods
Simply banging out hundreds of repetitions of sit-ups is not going to help if you don’t follow a proper meal plan.
To lose weight and build your abs, you need to burn more calories. The most efficient way of doing that is to completely eradicate high-calorie processed foods from your meal plans.
Eat More Vegetables and Fruits
Plant-based foods are low in calories but can make you feel full for prolonged periods. They are also high in vitamins and other essential nutrients.
Fibrous vegetables, like kale and spinach, improve your satiety and prevent hunger pangs. Following a low-calorie, plant-based diet alongside performing sit-ups can really accelerate the fat-loss process and help you get those tight abs.
Choose Healthier Food Alternatives
You cannot eliminate carbohydrates altogether, even if you are trying to lose weight. It’s better to get them from whole-grain sources like brown rice, oats, or quinoa. Refined alternatives like bread and pasta are unhealthy and can amplify the glycogen stores in your body.
Protein can be derived from lean sources like poultry and fish. That’s because they are low in fat content and do not eat up a lot of calories.
Performing thousands of sit-ups every day will not magically make your belly fat disappear or give you a hard set of abs.
While the exercise is good for strengthening your core and abdominal muscles, it needs to be complemented with a well-rounded fitness program for efficient results.
Without that, no amount of sit-ups per day will give you the outcomes that you desire.