“I Just Want To Get Rid Of My Belly Fat.
Why Aren’t I Doing Any Ab Exercises?”

Thoughts from a trainer and former physique competitor

That’s a question I hear from clients, gym members, new and old on a daily basis. To be honest, I can completely understand the logic behind this. If you have a problematic area, you work on it to improve it. After all, if your stove isn’t working, you wouldn’t try to fix it by working on your shower.

The human body however is much more complicated and intricate than most systems. Excess stomach fat or “adipose tissue”, is the number one complaint people have when it comes to their physical appearance. I bet whoever is reading this, no matter what age, no matter what fitness level, would be happy if they magically lost 2lbs of fat from only their stomach right now. Our waist lines serve a purpose, they are literally a fat storage site. Our mid sections are the very first place that fat is stored, and the very last place to be completely emptied of all excess energy.

So why not just go in to the gym, blast out 100 sit ups, plank for 10 straight minutes, and do that weird ab crunch machine until your abs are visible all day? While not even flexing, and even when sitting down ? Well in order to fully understand this, we got to take a look at how the body uses stored energy ( a.k.a. fat tissue).

So, lets start off with a truth that isn’t really known. An actual workout doesn’t burn very many calories. Yes, it’s true. Believe it or not, when you workout, you likely only burn anywhere between 300-600 calories. Obviously this is different for high end athletes, but for the majority of people doing a half hour to a one hour workout, this is total amount of calories used.

Seems sort of low doesn’t it?

Now let’s take in to account that the average person eats anywhere between 2,000 to 4,000 calories a day.

You don’t need to have a university diploma to see that the math doesn’t add up. Even take the extremes on both sides and it won’t make sense.

Calories consumed in a day 2,000kcal – 600kcal Calories burned during a workout

Total amount of excess calories in a day= 1,400 kcal

So at best, even with healthy eating and intense exercise, you still end up with a caloric surplus. Yet those super in shape people at the gym rarely even work abs, (maybe throw in a few planks at the end of a workout) are still walking around with six packs. Here’s why.

50-65% of calories burned throughout an entire day are done so through our Basal Metabolic Rate a.k.a our metabolism. That’s right, the simple act of living, breathing, moving, fueling our lean muscle mass requires more energy throughout our entire day, than an intense workout requires. So what’s the best way to increase our metabolism? Very simple. Adding lean muscle tissue.

Think of muscle as a super needy partner. It needs a lot of attention. Every single minute. It needs a constant supply of oxygen, always needing nutrients to stay strong, creates a lot of waste and needs it to be taken away. It needs energy, all day, everyday, which is literally the complete opposite of fat (stored energy). If you see a pattern here give yourself a pat on the back. If you add muscle to your body, your body will literally fuel it by getting rid of your stored fat mass. Going back to the start of the article, you’ll remember that the waistline is the main storage site for fat tissue in the body.

This is why your trainer will make you do exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once (squats, bench press, deadlifts) in order to increase your muscle mass and therefore increasing your Basal Metabolic Rate. That’s why super in shape people sort of throw in abs as an after thought to the their main workout. That’s why walking in to a gym with 10lbs+ of fat around your mid section and doing crunches ( a very low intensity exercise) will not help you get those show case abs.

Everyone in this world has abdominal muscles, but getting them to show isn’t easy. You can go in to the gym and do just core exercises, get those abs nice and strong, and have the best abs of all time. However, if you’re not going to do anything about all the fat tissue sitting on top of them, you’ll never ever see them no matter what. So next time you’re thinking of shredding some belly fat, try to work your body from top to bottom. Shoulders, chest, back, core, quads, hamstrings, calves. Doing this top to bottom with increase muscle mass throughout the entire body, therefore causing your metabolism to be more active, using you’re stored fat as energy for those muscles

-Adam Camara

June 22, 2019
  • Adam Camara
  • Personal Trainer