We have all been guilty of it at one point or another. Doing a few extra ab exercises to help rid the fat that has accumulated over the midsection. Although your gut feeling (pun intended) may tell you that blasting the abs with exercise will burn the fat and flatten the midsection, reality is that this theory is far from the truth. Spot reduction is a huge myth that is alive a well!
The fat that accumulates in the abdomen, or any other part of the body, is stored energy and to get rid of it you must burn the stored energy. While strengthening exercises such as crunches can add significant muscle tone, the amount of calories this type of exercise expends is very limited. You can perform endless ab exercises and never see a flatter stomach unless you lower your calorie intake or burn the fat that blankets your tummy.
Research has been done with tennis players who get much more exercise with one arm than another and when the amount of body fat is measured in each arm, they are equal. When your body burns fat for energy, it grabs it from throughout your body but you will notice the most reduction where you store it the most, which for many is the midsection. You must create a deficit of 3500 calories through exercise, diet, or more easily a combination of the two, in order to burn one pound of fat.
It’s really a catch-22 that applies to every part of your body. If you have firm muscles that are covered by a layer of fat, you will have a soft and sloppy appearance. But at the same holds true if you fail to exercise, because exercise is what gives muscles a firm appearance. You must eat clean and exercise to have a lean and tone look. Sorry, no way around it ladies!
Since I have brought up the abdominal muscles, I can help rid another myth. The abdominal muscles have a high endurance capacity and while they can handle being exercised daily, this may be overkill in the eyes of many experts. Depending on your fitness goals, targeting any muscle 2-3 times per week with strength training of proper intensity (this means tough workouts!) will offer considerable improvements in strength, shape, and firmness.