30 November 2020

Calories Burned Doing Crunches: The Truth

Crunches are one of the top core exercises going. They target the six-pack muscles of the rectus abdominus and, when performed properly, will lead to hypertrophy (muscle growth).

However, the fact that they focus on the six-pack muscles often causes people to erroneously believe that crunches are good for losing weight, especially around the belly, which would rely on a caloric burn. This is not the case, as we’ll go into below: crunches do not burn many calories at all.

Use them to build muscle, not to lose weight.

How to do crunches

You don’t need any equipment to perform crunches, though an exercise or yoga mat and a set of loose training clothes will make the exercise more comfortable.

To perform crunches:

  1. Lie on your back, on the floor. Plant your feet on the ground, hip width apart, with your knees bent. Either touch your fingers to your temples (don’t ever grab your head) or cross them over your chest.
  2. Contract your abs and inhale. Lift your upper body, exhaling and keeping your head and neck relaxed as you do so.
  3. Inhale and return down. Stop with your shoulders an inch or so off the ground.
  4. Try to keep your movements small and focused and your abs contracted throughout.

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Calories burned doing crunches

You don’t ‘burn’ many calories doing crunches. Most of us will only use up about 5-6 per minute.

Crunches are a core exercise designed to build up core strength and elicit hypertrophy, not to expend lots of energy. In fact, when performed properly, the movements are so small, focussed and controlled that they won’t burn through much energy at all.

Instead, for weight loss, you will want to do plenty of cardio to burn calories, whilst maintaining a daily caloric deficit in your meal planning. Overall, you will want a deficit of around 500 below maintenance, from a mixture of cardio and diet.

Use an online BMR calculator to work your maintenance caloric needs, then simply deduct 500 and work to this.

For example, perform 200 calories’ worth of cardio each day (this could be a forty-five minute walk or a fifteen minute hard cycle, for instance). Then eat 300 calories below maintenance. This will give you your 500 calorie deficit, which will equate to around 1lb (05.kg) of fat loss per week.

Then the muscles you have built up by performing plenty of core work- including crunches- will become visible and all that hard work will have paid off.

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