How many sit-ups a day does it take to get a flat stomach?
You may not need to perform any sit-ups.
For decades, sit-ups were the go-to exercise for blasting belly fat and flattening the stomach.
The truth is that you can perform sit-ups all day without toning your core.
Achieving a flatter stomach is a common fitness goal. Most of us want to have six-pack abs.
Unfortunately, most of us will never get there.
The problem is that we still believe that sit-ups are the solution. Sit-ups are beneficial but they’re just one part of the process.
If you’re serious about getting a flatter stomach, you’ll need to follow a few specific steps.
Focus on One Fitness Goal at a Time
It doesn’t take a fitness instructor to explain how to gain weight or lose weight.
If you eat more calories than your body uses, you gain weight. The extra weight may come in the form of muscle or fat, depending on your workout routine and diet.
If you eat fewer calories than your body uses, you lose weight. Again, the weight loss may come in the form of muscle or fat.
You can’t really bulk up and lose fat at the same time.
Sure, when you start building muscle, you may naturally lose a little fat. However, you’re mostly going to need to focus on one task at a time.
There are three main stages to achieving sculpted abs:
- Burning fat
- Building muscle
- Toning your physique
Each of these stages also includes several steps and strategies to follow.
1. Burning Fat: Blast Away the Fat to Reveal Your Abs
As you can only work on one goal at a time, start with losing fat.
For most people, this is the main reason why you can’t achieve a flat stomach no matter how many sit-ups a day you perform.
If you’ve got a layer of fat over your midsection, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got well-defined abdominal muscles.
You first need to blast the fat so that you can see your abs.
Sit-ups may help you burn calories but they’re not required.
You can’t decide where to lose fat. When your body uses stored fat for energy, it gets it from the areas that provide the easiest access.
Luckily, the midsection is often the first place that men start to lose weight.
The areas where you store the most fat are the areas where you first start to lose fat. While men tend to store fat around the abdominal area, women tend to store fat around the hips, butt, and thighs.
It doesn’t matter if you perform sit-ups, jog, or jump rope. You’re going to burn calories and lose fat all over, starting in the areas that carry the most stored fat.
Tips for Safely Losing Belly Fat
How do you start losing fat?
Eat a calorie deficit. You need to eat fewer calories than your body requires to maintain weight.
It’s simple. Determine how many calories your body burns at rest using an online calorie calculator.
If you plan on working out during this stage in the process, subtract 250 calories from your daily calorie needs. With moderate exercise, you may lose another 250 calories per day, resulting in a 500-calorie deficit.
If you’re going to sit around all day but still want to lose weight, subtract 500 calories.
Losing 500 calories per day results in a total loss of 3,500 calories per week. 3,500 calories equal one pound, allowing you to stick to a healthy weight loss strategy.
You can also use the basic estimate of 10 times your body weight in pounds. Use this method if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.
If you’re active, multiply your body weight in pounds by 12. This results in a slightly smaller deficit.
Include Moderate Exercise in Your Routine
You don’t necessarily need to work out while trying to burn fat but it does help.
As mentioned, you’re not going to really blast fat and build muscle at the same time. However, you can still experience small gains.
Working out also helps burn a few more calories so remember to use the smaller 250-calorie deficit if you exercise.
First, include cardio in your routine. Cardio exercises promote better blood circulation and burn calories.
Jogging or cycling also increases your lung capacity, makes your heart stronger, and helps you sleep better.
If you don’t enjoy cycling, jogging, or swimming, you can simply go for a walk.
The general rule is that you’ll burn about 100 calories per mile walked. Most people can walk a mile in about 20 minutes.
Going for a couple walks around the block each day may provide enough cardio to help you shed a few extra pounds each month.
Track Your Progress and Take Measurements
As you start to peel away the fat, you should keep track of your progress.
One to two pounds of weight loss per week is safe and realistic. If you’ve got 20 pounds of fat to lose before you can see your abdominal muscles, it may take 10 to 20 weeks to reach your goal.
Unless you’ve got calipers, you probably won’t track your body fat percentage. However, you can measure yourself.
Measure your waistline and belly before you start this process.
Each week, measure yourself again to see if you notice any changes.
You should also weigh yourself. If you continue to lose weight but don’t see a reduction in waist size, you may need to adjust your diet.
If you’re retaining too much water or not getting enough fiber, bloating may keep your measurements from decreasing.
Eventually, you should start to see a slimmer stomach.
2. Building Muscle: Start Strength Training to Bulk up
After blasting the fat, your midsection may appear thin or still a little flabby. If you’ve worked your abdominal muscles in the past, you may even see a little bit of muscle definition.
You now need to decide on your next step.
If you’re looking to achieve a six-pack, you’ll want to start bulking up and building muscle. You’ll need to tone the abdominal muscles.
If you want a smooth, flat stomach, you don’t want to bulk up. You just need to tone what you’ve already got.
No matter which option you choose, you’ll need to start strength training.
The main difference will be the foods that you eat and the intensity of the workouts.
To start bulking up, you’ll need to eat a calorie surplus and get enough protein. If you want to tone your existing muscles without adding more muscle mass, you’ll need to eat a little less.
How Much Should You Eat?
To bulk up, you should try to eat 250 to 500 calories more than your basal metabolic rate (BMR) requires. Your BMR helps you determine how many calories to eat to maintain weight.
If you add 3,500 calories per week, you’ll start to gain one pound each week. This is the opposite of the first step where you eat at a calorie deficit to lose weight.
However, you’re not going to gain a pound of fat each week. You’re going to gain maybe half a pound of muscle, assuming that you start strength training.
Your diet should include about 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight to promote protein synthesis.
If you weigh 150 pounds, you should eat about 75 grams to 120 grams of protein each day. Lean protein is the best choice as it contains a better ratio of healthy and unhealthy fats.
Common recommendations include poultry and seafood. Fill up on chicken and fish, eating between four and six servings per day depending on your body weight.
If you don’t want to bulk up but want to tone your muscles, don’t eat a calorie surplus. Eat your base number of calories that you need to consume to maintain your weight.
Create a Full Body Workout Routine
No matter if you want to tone your muscles or bulk up, you need to work out.
Work a different set of muscle groups each day but work your abs at least twice per week.
Here’s a sample weekly workout routine:
- Sunday: Rest
- Monday: Abs
- Tuesday: Arms and back
- Wednesday: Legs
- Thursday: Abs
- Friday: Chest and shoulders
- Saturday: Rest
If you want to maximize results, you could work out six days per week. However, you still need one day off for rest.
For example, you could add an abdominal workout on Saturday and then rest on Sunday.
Most fitness experts agree that you need at least 48 hours of rest for optimal muscle recovery.
That doesn’t mean you need to take two days off in a row. It means you shouldn’t work the same muscles without letting them rest for a couple of days.
Don’t work your abs on back-to-back days.
What Are the Best Exercises for Targeting the Abs?
While you can’t really target specific areas for fat loss, you can target areas for muscle development.
On the days that you work your abdominal muscles, you should include exercises that specifically target the abs. Some of the best ab exercises include:
- Lying leg raises
- Reverse crunches
- Toe touchers
- Leg pull-ins
- Jackknife sit-ups
You may have noticed that sit-ups appear in this list. Yes, sit-ups are effective but they’re just one of many exercises that you should use.
Sit-ups work the abdominal muscles along with the chest, hip flexors, lower back, and neck. They also increase the risk of back strains and neck injuries.
To avoid the risk of injury, learn how to perform a sit-up properly:
- Lie on your back
- Bend your legs and plant your feet on the ground
- Cross your hands to your shoulders; don’t pull your neck
- Curl your upper body toward your knees, engaging your core muscles
- Exhale as you curl upward
- Inhale as you lower your body
When performing this movement, don’t lift with your neck. Try to feel your core muscles as you start to curl your upper body forward.
Do You Need to Include Cardio Exercises?
At this stage, you don’t really need cardio. Sure, it’s great for burning a few more calories and improving cardiovascular health but it’s not essential.
In fact, including too much cardio in your routine may result in a calorie deficit. You don’t want to burn more calories than you consume and end up losing weight when you’re trying to sculpt your muscles.
It’s up to you if you want to continue including cardio exercises in your standard routine. Jogging or cycling may help you maintain your health but you need to avoid overdoing it.
3. Toning Your Physique: Tone Your Muscles and Lose Extra Fat
After bulking up, you may gain a little more fat.
Again, it’s hard to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. To gain muscle, you need to eat a calorie surplus.
After using calories to promote the protein synthesis process, your body stores the remaining calories as fat.
So after bulking up, you may have some fat to deal with.
To complete your body transformation, you need to go back to the first stage and blast the fat. However, you don’t need to eat at a calorie deficit or stop working out.
In fact, the best way to tone your body is to maintain your current workout routine.
You just need to ensure that you end the day with fewer calories than your body requires. If you’re still working out, you can eat your recommended daily calorie count and still lose weight instead of setting a calorie deficit.
This is also a good point to start focusing more on exercises that target the abdominal muscles.
In the previous stage, you target every major muscle group, helping to increase your overall muscle mass. This increases your metabolism, making it easier to keep the excess fat off.
You can now target the abs to start sculpting your muscles, especially since you should now be able to see your abdominal muscles.
What Are the Different Abdominal Muscles?
Most people think of the abs as one set of muscles. You’ve got four main sets of abdominal muscles:
- Rectus abdominus
- Transverse abdominus
- Internal obliques
- External obliques
The rectus abdominus is the set of muscles responsible for the “six-pack”. These muscles have several lines of connective tissue that give the muscles the appearance of individual sections.
Some people have two sets of lines, creating the six-pack look, while others have one or three lines, creating the appearance of a four-pack or eight-pack.
External obliques are the muscles that appear on the sides of the torso. Along with the rectus abdominus, these are the most superficial ab muscles and the ones that you want to target to achieve a sculpted look.
Working your transverse abdominus and internal obliques help with stability, support, and flexibility. Basically, if you work these muscles, you’ll become less likely to injure yourself during your workouts.
Target the internal obliques with leg raises and Swiss ball crunches. Use the forward Swiss ball roll to target the transverse abdominus.
To target the rectus abdominus and build a six-pack, perform planks, sit-ups, and crunches.
Crunches are also perfect for targeting the obliques. Perform a standard crunch but twist your body to the side on the way up, engaging the left or right obliques.
Benefits of Achieving a Flatter Stomach
Getting a flatter stomach may give you more confidence. You’ll feel better showing off your defined abdominal muscles.
A flatter stomach and toned core improve your balance. Whether you’re doing chores or playing sports, you’ll enjoy great stability and coordination.
Maintaining a thinner midsection also helps improve your posture. You tend to stand and sit straighter, instead of hunching over, reducing the risk of back pain.
Along with these advantages, blasting the belly fat reduces your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Final Thoughts on Achieving a Flatter Stomach
How many sit-ups a day does it take to get a flat stomach? You don’t need to perform a single sit-up.
To flatten your stomach, you need to blast fat, which requires you to eat at a calorie deficit.
After burning away the fat, you can start bulking up to tone your abdominal muscles. Instead of sit-ups, you can use crunches, bench presses, and a wide range of exercises that target the abs.
When you’ve finished bulking up, you may need to sculpt your body to get rid of any excess fat that you gained.
Maintaining the recommended daily calorie intake and continuing to work out should help you complete the process.
You’ll have tight abdominal muscles with minimal fat around your midsection, helping to define the curves and bulges of your muscles.
Of course, if you don’t want to a six-pack and just want a smooth, flat stomach, you can stop bulking up after you tighten your muscles.
In the end, achieving a flat stomach is an easy process. It’s just time-consuming.
Stick with it and don’t become discouraged. If you slip up or take time off from your workouts, resume your routine the next day.