So have you decided to do 500 crunches a day to get rid of your belly? It sounds logical that if you train your abs hard enough with high repetitions of crunches it should burn off the fat, right? Well, not really! Actually, our body does not spot reduce. If you lose 5 pounds, you will lose it from all over your body and not from one specific area.
Let us first understand our bodies a little better. Our bodies have a preferred area to store fat. This is where it tends to store fat first and then the body stores it in other areas. Generally for men it is their stomach, and for women it is their thighs and hips. This is why you will first notice your stomach or thighs growing fatter before other body parts. So after months of weight gain, your body’s preferred area to put on fat will be much fatter than other areas on your body.
Another major misconception that a lot of people have is that they should do thousands of crunches to create ripped six pack abs. Well, you see even the fattest person in the world has a six pack to begin with. It’s just that it is hidden behind a thick layer of fat and thus the six pack of abdominals are simply not visible. By doing high number of crunches, your ab muscles will get stronger but the fat covering them will still remain the same. So, never think that you can create a muscle. You can build up a muscle and you can lose the fat over it in order to make that muscle visible.
Now, let’s get back to targeting the trouble areas for fat loss. Crunches and leg swings are not the best way to reduce the fat in the stomach area. As mentioned earlier, our bodies are conditioned to lose fat from all over, rather than losing it from one particular area. Thus, the more calories you burn, the more fat you lose overall! Activities that are tough, like intense weight training and sprinting will burn far more calories than doing situps. Which exercise will tire you out more, doing 500 squats or 500 crunches?
So stop believing in the myth of “toning” a certain body part. Work with movements that use a lot of muscle groups to burn more calories. That way you will reduce fat from all over, including your trouble areas. Below is a list that gives examples of some activities that will help you lose overall body fat faster:
- Intense weight training using compound movements like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rows, overhead presses, etc. in the 6-15 rep range. Choose 4-6 exercises and do 2-3 sets of each.
- Bodyweight exercises like push ups, squats, pull ups for high number of repetitions.
- Rowing for 20 minutes.
- Rope jumping for 20 minutes.
- 6-20 sets of 50-100 meter sprints with 2 minutes walking recovery in between.
- Playing sports like soccer, basketball, etc.
- Martial arts classes.
Of course you can work your problem areas directly with situps, leg swinging, etc. However, focus more on the exercises from the above list and keep your crunches and leg swings to no more than 20% of your workout time. Remember to progress in your workouts by moving faster and lifting more weight gradually to keep getting results!