Now that we are approaching the summer months, we are seeing more and more ads with shirtless people with washboard six-packs. If you are thinking that crunches are the solution to get those abs, then I am here to tell you that is not the answer. I know Kei, abs are made in the kitchen, right? This is true but needs to be explained in more detail. So here are 3 reasons why crunches aren't your solution to great-looking abs.
First and foremost, crunches are great for targeting the upper portion of your abdominals. However, it is not a great option in terms of fat-burning benefits. Crunches burn very few calories. Let's think about the movement. You lift the upper portion of your torso and bring it down. And that's it. Not much recruitment elsewhere. If the goal is to lose body fat, then crunches are not a great option. You want to choose exercises that are bang-for-your-buck. For example, a barbell shoulder press. When you hold the weight in front of you, your body automatically has to engage the core, upper body, and lower body. Yes, you are going to feel the shoulders dominating the movement, but the whole body has to work together to lift the weight overhead. So rather than doing 5 exercises, you can get the same benefit with 1. Talk about efficiency!
Secondly, is the fact that no matter how many crunches you do won't matter if you don't get rid of the fat. Everyone has abs but the difference is the amount of fat in front. We all have a muscle called rectus abdominis (aka the six-pack muscle). The top half of this muscle gets recruited when doing crunches. However, where are most people's problems? That's right. The lower belly. So technically, crunches don't activate the lower half of the rectus abdominis. So rather than doing a thousand crunches, the priority should be to lose body fat by burning calories (this can be achieved through strength training as well) and eating less.
Lastly, is the fact that diet plays a bigger role in losing body fat. When they say abs are made in the kitchen, it means the consistency of eating the right amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat every meal (YES, EVERY MEAL). When we see these advertisements on social media, these people's body fat percentages are in the single digits. To be able to sustain this body fat means they are eating clean 24/7. Measuring out every portion of their food. Not eating out. Not drinking alcohol. Taking their meals everywhere they go. If this sounds like something you can do for months, then suit yourself. But, the majority of us cannot. So the correct course of action is to gradually cut calories, learn discipline when we are out, drink a little less, but still enjoy life. Remember, learning new habits take time and effort. Hope you enjoyed this month's blog. Stay tuned for more next month -Kei