More people these days seem to follow the adage that “abs are made in the kitchen”; yet there still seems to be hope among many that doing more ab exercises like crunches or planks will help cut out some of that abdominal fat.

Photo credit: Rance Costa on Flickr.
Photo credit: Rance Costa on Flickr.

Researchers at the University of Southern Illinois put it to the test, with a recent research study to determine the effect of abdominal exercise on reducing abdominal fat.

Survey said…

The research study results were published in the September 2011 edition of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Twenty-four “healthy sedentary” (really?) participants were selected and split into an activity group (AG) and a control group (CG). The activity group behaved as normal but were asked to perform a 5 minute warmup plus 10 minutes of abdominal exercises 5 times per week for 6 weeks. The exercises were 2 sets of 10 each of bent-knee sit-ups, lateral trunk flexion, leg lifts, oblique crunches, stability ball crunches, stability ball twists, and abdominal crunches. The control group did no prescribed exercise, and just behaved as normal. Measures of body fat (using DXA), body mass, BMI, and waist circumference were taken before and after the 6 week period. “No differences were existed between the groups at baseline testing”.1

AT the end of the 6 week period, “there was no significant difference between the AG and CG for android fat as measured by DXA, waist circumference, or abdominal skinfold measurements.1

Now the activity group did see some benefit of their exercise: their abdominal muscle endurance increased.

Core exercises are of course still a great idea as a strong core is essential for general health, reducing the risk of low back pain, and for sports performance. But it’s not the key to a trim tummy.


1. Vispute, Sachin S, Smith, John D, LeCheminant, James D, and Hurley, Kimberly S. The Effect of Abdominal Exercise on Abdominal Fat. J Strength Cond Res 25: 2559-2564.

Looking for a good core workout option for general health, reducing the risk of low back pain or sports performance? Check out The Core Is The Core 30 Day Challenge. Just promise me you aren’t going to do it as a means to lose belly fat.


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  1. I have clients ask me all the time if they can spot train and are always baffled when I tell them otherwise. It is almost like they don’t believe me.

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