If you’ve got a stubborn spare tire hanging out around your midsection, you may be wondering if you can do crunches to burn off the belly fat. The short answer is yes…and no. Before you point out how unhelpful that really is, let us explain as well as provide some tips that may actually prove useful for those saggy tummy woes.
Crunches Can Burn Fat
In addition to eating well-balanced meals made from whole foods, exercise is an obvious must when it comes to burning any unwanted fat in the body. And given that crunches are exercise, then the powers of deduction lead us to crunches burn fat. Some of that fat might be in the belly, while some of that fat may be in other parts of the body. But bottom line, crunches can burn fat.
Crunches Can’t Target Belly Fat
Things get a little trickier with fat burning when it comes to targeting a specific area, aka “spot reduction.” It’s easy to think that in order to make a part of your body less fluffy, you should hone in and work on it specifically. But that’s not how the body really works. While the exercise you do in that area can help to strengthen the muscles, it doesn’t necessarily torch the subcutaneous fat sitting on top of that muscle. Instead the body tends to shed fat more uniformly from head to toe–even when it feels like the only clothing size getting smaller is your bra size.
Smarter Ways to Solve Stomach Fat
While crunches are a perfectly good exercise to add to your weekly routine, they’re not necessarily the end all be all way to burn fat efficiently. Compared to larger muscle groups, such as your
glutes and lats, your abs are relatively small, which means the exercises you do to target this area will yield a low-calorie burn. By focusing on strengthening the larger muscles instead, you get more bang for your buck both during the workout and after. That’s because in addition to burning a higher amount of calories while working them out, the recovery period after burns for longer given their size–so you’re burning calories and fat without having to keep working out. Who doesn’t love that?
To really blast away fat, go for high-intensity interval training, in which crunches can be integrated. A sample workout might include five rounds of the following:
- Jumping Jacks, 30 seconds
- Burpees, 30 seconds
- Crunches, 30 seconds
- Mountain Climbers, 30 seconds
- Squat Jumps, 30 seconds
- Skipping Rope, 30 seconds
Can I Skip the Core Work?
Nope…sorry. A stable core is crucial to a healthy, injury-free body, so strengthening is paramount. Still, if you absolutely despise crunches, there are plenty of other midsection fitness options that act as perfectly good substitutes. A few to try are planks, standing leg lifts, boxing jabs, and yoga balance poses. Many complex weightlifting exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, push press, and lunges engage the core, creating a full-body workout that hits the major muscles groups (and again, burns more fat efficiently) in just a few moves.
What area of your body to do you find to be the most stubborn to shape up? We’ve all got ‘em! Share yours in the comments!