Do Crunches Reduce Belly Fat?

If you've decided to perform crunches in an attempt to burn away your belly fat, you've picked the wrong exercise -- but you're hardly alone. The thought that you can perform ab exercises to burn away your belly is prevalent in the fitness community, but the theory behind it, known as spot reduction, is a myth. It's impossible to selectively burn fat in any area. CNN Health labels spot reduction as a top-10 fitness myth. Crunches should have a place in your workout routine, but if your goal is to bid farewell to your belly, other exercises are more suitable.

Step 1
Set an attainable goal concerning the loss of your belly fat. You won't lose the fat overnight or in just a few days, but through continuous exercise, it's possible to burn off your belly while you reduce the fat elsewhere in your body. A reasonable weight-loss goal is to endeavor to lose one or two pounds per week.

Step 2
Perform crunches and other strength-training exercises two to three times a week to strengthen your muscles. Strength-training exercises such as crunches aren't the right approach when you wish to lose weight, due to their very low calorie burn. HealthStatus notes that a 180-pound person will burn just 122 calories in 20 minutes of crunches. This rate of burning calories is inefficient if you wish to burn fat.

Step 3
Develop a cardio workout that includes at least 300 minutes of exercise per week. Unlike crunches, cardio exercises burn calories quickly, making them a vital tool in your attempt to burn fat and lose weight. Crunches burn calories at only a fraction of the rate of several cardio exercises. For example, a 180-pound person will burn 310 calories in 20 minutes of vigorously pedaling an exercise bike and 313 calories in 20 minutes of running at 7 mph. Other cardio exercises to consider include walking, hiking and swimming.

Warnings

Avoid overtraining your abdominal muscles by performing excessive crunches. In general, around three sets of up to 25 reps is more than enough to strengthen these muscles without risking injury or using the incorrect form.

Tips

Despite the low calorie burn of strength training, it can play a role in weight loss. You'll increase your metabolism as you strengthen your muscles; the higher your metabolism, the faster you'll burn calories whether you're exercising or not.
Reducing your calorie intake also plays a role in fat loss. By burning extra calories through exercise and avoiding high-calorie, unhealthy foods, you'll increase your chances of fat-loss success.