What do you need to do 250,000 times in order to burn one pound?
The answer is crunches. According to a recent article on Men’s Health magazine, you need to do 250,000 crunches to burn one pound of fat.
Does this qualify it to be the worst abs exercise ever? I think it does. At least it must be a contender for the crown. Just think about the time it may take you to do 250,000 crunches (answer at the end of this post). And, if you have 4 pounds to lose, you need to do a cool million of them. Scary.
In addition, as anyone with a bad back will tell you, crunches simply make the lower back scream with pain. If you have any kind of tendency for lower back pain, this is not an exercise that you should do.
Crunches Are Not Effective Even With Machines
OK, so we know that crunches are not really effective, but if I do them with weights or use a special abs machine it’s different, right?
Of course not. Let’s consider this logically: let’s say you weigh 160 pounds (a normal weight for a men). When you do crunches you’re lifting your entire upper body. This must be at least 70 pounds. Now, let’s say you take a 10 pound weight and hold it against your chest. Now you’re lifting 80 pounds. You’ve added less than 15% of weight to your crunch. This means that you still need to do over 200,000 crunches to burn one pound of fat!
A similar thing can be said about machines such as the Ab Rocket or Ab King Pro. Yes, some of these machines say that they give you a bigger range of motion, but how much does this really improve the effectiveness of this exercise? By 10%… 20%? You’re still looking at over 150,000 crunches just for one pound of fat. Crazy.
Crunches Create An Illusion Of Work
“You’ve got to be kidding. When I do crunches I feel my abs.”
If this kind of thought is going through your mind let me ask you this: If you can do 50 crunches (even if you do them slow), and even less-than-fit people can, then you’re not really getting a good workout. You may have the illusion of a workout, but it’s not really effective at all.
Crunches may be good for beginners (and maybe not even for them), but they mostly waste your time and leave you with a feeling that you did some work, when in fact you didn’t.
What Should You Do Then
I’ve said it before in other articles on this site but it bears repeating: ab exercises are not the best way to burn belly fat. To be able to really burn a lot of abdominal fat you need to engage in powerful, full body workouts. Forget about trying to divide your body into sections and only deal with the body parts that worry you the most. This doesn’t work.
You need to do powerful, full body, strength training sessions, working all of your muscle groups. In addition, you need to engage in the right cardio workouts to burn belly fat. Do a lot of intense workouts such as running and rowing and rock climbing. Anything that gets your entire body moving and working and is hard to do.
You also need to do cardio in a certain way: more high intensity intervals rather than going at the same pace for a long time. Intervals push your body much harder than steady-pace cardio does and they will burn off the fat much faster too.
Do Effective Abs Exercises
Instead of wasting your time with crunches, do yourself a favor and stick to really effective exercises. I’m talking about planks, side planks, reverse crunches, pikes, Russian twists, hanging leg raises, etc. These will make your abdominal muscles stronger and really pop out once you get your body fat down.
Using a stability ball will make many abdominal exercises much harder. A stability ball forces you to use your muscles to keep yourself stable (hence the name) so you strengthen your core. Check out these stability ball exercises for some options.
If you do 60 crunches in a minute, it will take you 4166 minutes of continuous crunching to burn one pound of fat. That is over 160 days of pure crunches. If you want to go down that road, be my guest. If you don’t then I recommend that you start training smarter.
I recommend watching this video on how to do short workouts using 3-d exercises to get flat abs. This video will open your eyes to the right way to exercise for flat abs. Watch it and stop doing crunches. They’re the worst exercise for abs.