While crunches are a great way to tone your midsection and strengthen your lower back, they do next to nothing to get rid of belly fat. Since you can’t spot reduce–lose weight or fat from a specific part of your body–you will need a multiple approach in order to get rid of your beer belly.
Thirty minutes of cardiovascular training three or more times a week is the bare minimum you will need to kick in fat burning. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you eventually need to work your way up to 60 or 90 minutes of aerobic training. Start with 10 minutes at a time if you can’t manage to do 30 minutes nonstop. For best results, mix different activities, such as biking, walking or running, an aerobics class or a game of soccer.
Add weight training two or three times a week. Make sure you give muscles at least 24 hours in between workouts so they can rest and repair themselves. Using dumbbells, machines or even your own body weight are all acceptable options. Weight training builds muscle, which in turn speeds up metabolism, helping you burn fat faster. Always stretch after every workout, making sure that all the muscles involved in a specific workout get a sustained stretch (don’t bounce) of at least 15 seconds. If you’re not flexible, try yoga to help you loosen up.
While crunches won’t reduce the size of your stomach, they will help you gain tone, so you won’t look flabby once the weight melts away. If you have a lot of weight to lose, wait until you have lost enough that you can keep proper form without arching your back too much. Do as many crunches as you can to get started and then increase the number as you get stronger. There’s no such thing as “too many crunches,” so keep adding as you feel comfortable. Old-fashioned crunches, reverse crunches and bicycle abs are all effective forms of abdominal exercise. You can also try Pilates, which engages the core abdominal muscles in most postures and exercises.
About this Author
Diana Bocco is a health, wellness and travel writer with credits in various publications, including “Woman’s Day,” “Marie Claire,” “Adirondack Life” and “Self.” Bocco is also a seasoned independent traveler as well as a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant.