I have come across clients or random exercisers who insist that the best way to carve a tight midsection is through endless repetitions of abdominal exercises. Here's a study that may help those to understand that it takes more than crunches to get that six-pack.
Researchers from the department of kinesiology and health education at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, had one goal: to determine the effect, if any, of abdominal exercises on abdominal fat. Two groups of people were gathered for the study. Group A performed 2 sets of 10 repetitions of seven abdominal exercises, five times per week for 6 weeks. Group B, the control group, did no exercises at all. At the end of the study, Group A showed no change in body weight, their body fat percentage was unchanged, the circumference of their abdominal area did not change either. Group A, however were able to perform more curl-up repetitions than Group B.
Six weeks of abdominal training alone was NOT sufficient to reduce abdominal fat, the study authors reported. The only thing gained was the amount of abdominal exercises that could be performed.
The study was published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2011); 25 , 2559-64.