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- ACE Fitness: So, You Want To Spot Reduce? Here's How
- Harvard Health Publications: Benefit to Improving Diet and Exercise at the Same Time
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When done correctly, crunches can give you toned, sexy abs. Whether you do them in the evening, or during the day, they're a powerful addition to any workout routine. However, crunches alone aren't likely to lead to weight loss. A healthful diet and a balanced exercise routine will help you see weight loss success more quickly than just focusing on one exercise and one body area.
Most people have body parts they'd like to improve on -- losing that upper arm jiggle, getting rid of the bowlful-of-jelly or getting legs that look great in shorts. If you're looking for a thin and toned midsection, crunches will help you get the definition you crave, but they won't lead to weight loss in your waist. Spot reduction -- weight loss targeted to one body part -- is a myth that continues to be perpetuated. According to ACE Fitness, fat loss occurs throughout the body, not in one specific area.
Crunches can be a staple of your exercise routine, but if your goal is weight loss, and not just toning, you should include a good balance of cardio and strength exercises. Strength training, such as lifting weights and doing crunches, doesn't burn a lot of calories. The big calorie burn comes from cardio activities like riding your bike or jogging. However, crunches and other strength exercises tone muscles, leaving your body looking fit. Medline suggests that you aim for at least 2.5 hours of aerobic activity each week and include strength training at least twice a week.
Toning With Crunches
Crunches are among of the most effective exercises for your abdominal muscles. For safety and the greatest benefit, it's important to use proper technique. Lie on your back with your knees bent -- don't hook your feet under a couch or table as that will prevent your abdominals from being isolated. Plant your feet firmly and keep your knees separated. Fold your arms over your chest and raise your upper body by tightening your abs. Hold for a count of three, then return to your starting position. The number of crunches you should do depends on your fitness level and your goals. A good rule of thumb is to stop doing crunches when you find it hard to hold proper form. Exercise when it's most convenient for you -- the benefit is the same whether you exercise in the morning or at night 3.
Strengthening all of your core muscles -- including abs, back and pelvis -- will improve your ability to perform everyday functions and will even improve overall athletic performance. Try adding other core exercises, such as bridges, planks and the superman, to your strength exercise routine. By toning your body, you can lose inches even if your weight does not go down. Muscle weighs more than fat, but takes up less space, so strength training can give the appearance of weight loss.
Crunches can be a staple of your exercise routine, but if your goal is weight loss, and not just toning, you should include a good balance of cardio and strength exercises. However, crunches and other strength exercises tone muscles, leaving your body looking fit. A healthful diet and a balanced exercise routine will help you see weight loss success more quickly than just focusing on one exercise and one body area.
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