2000-06-03 / Columnists

Fitness Forum…..

Ask The Personal Trainer


Dear Shaun,

I’ve been doing sit-ups everyday for quite some time now without seeing any real results. My stomach is more or less the only part of my body that I can’t seem to get into shape. What exercise can I do other than sit-ups to tighten my abdominal muscle and get rid of my gut?



John, I’m glad you asked this question because this is going to save you and everyone else looking to achieve "rock hard abs" a whole lot of time and energy.

It’s only natural to believe that performing a certain exercise such as sit-ups will strengthen your abdominal muscle and also give it definition. Unfortunately for us, this is not entirely true. It’s like half true. Your abs are definitely getting stronger, but they will not necessarily become defined. Doing sit-ups to get rid of your gut is a form of spot reduction, which is a known fitness fallacy. It’s false, an untrue myth that causes people to believe that fat can be removed by centering an exercise on a specific muscle.

So if sit-ups don’t do the trick, then what does? It’s really a combination of three factors. First, change your diet. Eat in moderation and practice self control. Second, you must do some form of cardiovascular exercise, like jogging, bike riding, or speed walking in order to burn off the calories and fat. Lastly, do as many sit-ups or crunches as you can until your eyes cross, then do 10 more. Keep in mind, you should only feel the burn in your abdomen. If you’re experiencing back pain from sit-ups then you’re not doing the exercise correctly.

So you see John, it’s really a combination of factors. Making changes in your diet very slowly should be the initial step. Then begin some form of cardiovascular exercise to get rid of the layer of fat covering your abs, and do your sit-ups along with it. You’ll start to see some amazing positive changes in the way you look, but much more importantly in the way you feel. Use my advice. Try it for a couple of months, but take it slow, be patient, enjoy yourself, and I’ll see you at the gym.


(Questions to ask personal trainer Shaun Ruskin can be sent to Fitness Forum, c/o The Wave Newspaper, PO Box 97, Rockaway Beach, NY 11693)


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