I see people at the gym on a daily basis, doing endless crunches and ab machines in hopes of having a flat stomach. It amazes me that there are so many people out there who still believe in spot reduction-the idea that doing a certain exercise that targets a specific area of your body will burn fat off of that area. I just wish I could tell them: if your goal is fat loss, it’s not going to work. Stop wasting your time!
I never have my clients do crunches, with the exception of reverse crunches occasionally. Why? Well, because they are not effective, especially when it comes to burning belly fat. NO amount of crunches will give you a flat stomach. It just WON’T work. But what about strengthening the core? Well, in my opinion, there are much more effective exercises to use for that than crunches.
Crunches come in very LAST PLACE in strategies for getting a flat stomach or revealing 6 pack abs. Since you can’t target where you lose fat, it’s simply a matter of losing body fat all over. And losing body fat mostly comes down to your NUTRITION-more specifically, through lowering caloric intake. This should be the number one focus when it comes to losing body fat. With proper nutrition, you can actually achieve a flat stomach without doing a single crunch.
So, if crunches aren’t effective for burning belly fat, they don’t burn a significant amount of calories, and they aren’t the best exercise to strengthen the core, then WHY do them? Yes, you should train your abs to have a strong core and/or if you are seeking to build more defined abs. But if it’s fat you’re trying to get rid of, get your nutrition in check first. Then, rather than wasting time doing crunches, here are five exercises you should be doing instead:
What many people don’t realize is that pushups don’t only work the chest, arms, and shoulders, but the core as well. Any exercise that works multiple muscle groups will burn more calories than just isolating the abs.
Grab a set of heavy dumbbells, walk for a minute, and see how high your heart rate goes up. Not only are you getting your heart rate up, you’re also highly engaging your core muscles, along with your forearms, shoulders, and upper back. Once again, the more muscles you’re engaging, the better, especially where fat loss is concerned.
These are a great compound movement that basically works your whole body-legs, upper back, and core. Because of where you hold the dumbbell or kettlebell, your abs are forced to engage to hold your body upright.
4)Sprints or prowler pushes.
If fat loss is the goal, you can’t beat sprints or prowler pushes. Not only do you burn calories while doing them, but with short burst, high intensity cardio, your metabolism will continue to be slightly elevated after your workout.
5)Single arm movements(landmine press, single arm dumbbell press, single arm cable row, etc.) Any time you use only one side of your body, your core is activated in order to stabilize your body.
With each of these movements, your core is being worked along with other muscles in the body at the same time, which is best for burning the most calories. These are the type of movements that should make up the majority of your workouts, along with other compound movements, if a flat stomach is your goal. If you MUST, you can add in some ab isolation exercises into your workouts, but only if you have done these exercises first.
If you truly want to transform your body and get a smaller midsection, crunches are not the answer. Utilizing the above exercises, in combination with proper right nutrition will get you much closer to a flat stomach than crunches ever will.