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Stworzymy dla Ciebie

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Abdomen localized fat burning - does it exist?

Abdomen localized fat burning - does it exist?


Incited by catchwords: "get rid of belly fat by doing thousands of bends", "the best way to a muscular belly is aerobic Weider's six" many people still believe in localized fat burning. How many of your friends spend 15-20 minutes every day doing the same exercises? How many of them can show off with their beautiful, fatless bellies? Exactly. Now, why is that so?

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You can search for answers in scientific researches for many scientists have been investigating this problem.

 Proof # 1: „crunches” and other similar exercises don't burn your belly fat!

The goal of the research was to determine the impact of exercises on fat tissue localised in the are of abdomen. Participants: twenty-four healthy adults not involoved in any additional physical activity. 14 men and 10 women. Age: 18-40. Assigned at random to one of two groups:

  1. CG = control group

  2. AG = abdominal exercise group; their training resembled the aeroic Weider's six.

An analysis of their body composition and muscle strength was done before and after the experiment.

The group doing the belly:

  • was doing as much as 7 abdomen exercises!

  • there were 2 sets with 10 repetitions so altogether they were doing 140 repetitions,

  • the traning was done 5 days a week for a period of 6 weeks!

  • as you can easily calculate: 5 days by 140 repetitions = 700 repetitions of abdomen exercises a week,

The CG group was not additionally physically active. Isocaloric diet was applied.


No results! The group aimed at killing their bellies didn't reduce their body weight, they didn't reduce fat percentage (neither in their overall body, nor in their bell measured locally), they didn't reduce their waist, and no difference in abdominal fold was observed. The only profit gained by the group which was killing thier bellies was a better result in bends test (47 repetitions ± 13) in comparison to the control group (32 repetitions ± 9). As for 6 weeks of exercisin it's a rather poor result. Six weeks of intensive belly muscle training turned out to have almost no effect at all in reduction of fat tissue.

Proof # 2: „intensive training of one leg vs. fat burning”

Chileans scientists conducted an experiment on 11 students. They were to train one leg only on a gym equipment for the period of 12 (leg pushing). Low weight was used – 10 to 30% of maximum weight. During every training the students were doing from 960 to 1200 repetitions! As you can see, it's a typical endurance training simulation. It took the subjects around 80 minutes to do this collosal work. Bone mass, muscles and fat amount was measured in their bodies both before and after the experiment.


- Body weight before the experiment: 65.55 (± 5,7 kgs), body weight after: 64.59 (± 6,6 kgs) - reduction by 1,5%,

- The subjects lost on average 700 g of fat (before: 13.51 kgs, after: 12,82 kg; reduction by 5.1%)

- In the untrained (controlled) leg they lost 70 g of fat!

- In the trained leg they lost only 20 g of fat!

- the biggest amount of fat was lost in the area of abdomen (520 g),

Comments: the most shocking is the fact that the students lost only 20 g of fat in the trained leg (whereas in the controlled one over three times more!). It can be explained by the storage of fat reserves Można to wytłumaczyć składowaniem zapasu tłuszczu (intramuscular IMTG) which is energy substrate in the endurance workout. 700 g is a very poor result for 12 weeks of training.

In the next research of 2013, Turkish scientists divided 56 obese untrained men and women into two groups.

Group 1: AE (aerobic exercise) - 33 people were doing aerobic training with gradually rising time and frequency.

Group 2: ARE (aerobic-resistant exercise) – apart from regular aerobic sessions, they were doing strength training for upper and lower body. Both group member were asked not to change their eating habits.

Then the DXA method (X-ray absorptiometry) was applied to measure:

  • procentage of fat tissue,

  • amount of fat mass in kgs,

  • amount of fatless body mass.


The strength training group gained more fatless body mass (that is muscles, especially around arms and chest) compared to the aerobic training group. What is more, the former group burnt more fat tissue. Interestingly, the strength training together with aerobic helped the ladies to get rid of more fat from their legs.

Conclusions and recommendations?

  1. Paradoxically – aerobic training can contribute to fat deposition. It is intramuscular fat (IMTG) - eneretic material used while low-intensity training (<75% of maximum heart rate)!

  2. Intramuscular fat can feed your organism in up to 80% during a low-intensity training, in the oxigen zone (that is: cardio, aerobic). Conclusion? During „cardio” you burn quite a lot of fat but the one that should be burnt!

  3. We also know that obese women have two times more of intramuscular fat than men! What does it mean? Gycogen stocks are big enough for two hours of aerobic training! Instead of „cardio” choose intervals – during such training your organism uses more of the intramuscular fat.

  4. The more often you do aerobic training (such as trotting, slow cycling etc.) – the more fat will be located in your muscles! If you devote some time to interval training (ie. HIIT, HIIRT) and strength training, you will increase resources of quickly available fuel in the form of muscle glycogen.

  5. Additonally, we know that aerobic intensifies cortisol secretion, which has an influence on body fatness gaining. Interval trainings lower the level of cotisol, while long aerobic training cause its exacerbation. This subject has been touched upon here:

  6. Train your body globally, not partially: choose jogging, swimming, cycling and strength training instead of bends and other abdomen exercises,

  7. Aerobic Weider's six is good for back strain, not for fat reduction,

  8. „Crunches”  and other similar exercises don't burn belly fat,

  9. The best results of fat reduction stem from changes in your eating habits, not training (if a good reduction diet is applied),

  10. Excessive reduction of calorie supply (for instance the 1000 kcal diets) is the best way to slow down progress in fat loss (because it causes substantial metabolism slowdown),

  11. Scientific research has proven that interval training is much better than aerobic (when it comes to subcutaneous and intramuscular fat reduction, strength gain, performance improvement etc.)

  12. Excessive amount of aerobic training may be a reason for loss of muscles, which is first and the most important cause for slower metabolism (we lose fat tissue more slowly),

  13. Research shows that cardio training mixed with strength training is more effective than cardio itself for change of body composition.

  14. If you do strength training, additional intensive belly training is not needed, and very often even harmful. Limit yourself to 1-2 sets of a plank or Russian Twists at the end of your training session,

  15. Exercising on an empty stomach is not optimal and outdated reduction method, which leads to muscle breakdown and extensive secretion of cortisol. You'd better do intervals - after your meal,

  16. Supplements and nutriends usually don't produce expected results.

What is worth noticing: research indicate that plank or bridge type exercises, as well as v-cuts and v-bends are more effective than crunches – both partial and full. More abdomen workout was proven. 

FINALLY: How to arrange a training plan?

HIIT dla początkujących

HIIT dla średniozaawansowanych

Sources: J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Sep;25(9):2559-64. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181fb4a46. “The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat.” 2. 3. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 „Regional fat changes induced by localized muscle endurance resistance training”. 4. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2013 Feb;49(1):1-11. Epub 2012 May 8. “Effects of aerobic or combined aerobic resistance exercise on body composition in overweight and obese adults: gender differences. A randomized intervention study.”

W artykule mówimy o: Losing weight