Women around the world are constantly on the hunt for a toned midsection. Getting rid of pesky belly fat isn't as simple as lying down for a few sets of crunches every day. In fact, most fitness experts warn to stay away from repeating the same exercises day after day, as it can lead to overtraining and a host of related issues. You can do stomach crunches twice a day, but if you really want a flat stomach, that's not the way to go about it.
Generally, it's not recommended to do the same exercises multiple times in one day due to muscle fatigue. Exactly how often you should do crunches depends on who you ask, but the American Council on Exercise recommends no more than one to three sets of 10 to 25 repetitions of abdominal exercises per day. If you're doing more than that, you're likely doing more harm than good.
Like any muscle group, your abdominal muscles need rest between workouts to recover and rebuild. Risks of overtraining any muscle group can include decreased performance in training, fatigue, intense soreness, depression, irritability, stress and a host of other issues, both emotional and physical. A particularly nasty side effect for women is the absence of a menstrual cycle, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you really want to build a strong core, it isn't about doing hundreds of crunches every day -- it's about doing the right abdominal exercises. A 2001 study conducted by San Diego State University placed bicycle crunches and captain's chair knee raises at the top of their list of the most effective abdominal exercises. Switching it up and changing the angle and difficulty of your ab workouts will do more than increasing your reps.
Nutrition and Cardio
Doing the right abdominal exercises is a good place to start, but you still won't see visible progress until you trim your body fat. A combination of a healthy, balanced training diet and plenty of cardio exercise can help you achieve this. The key to getting a toned core is to attack the area from all sides. Expand the muscles underneath and evaporate the belly fat resting on top.
- American Council on Exercise: Should I Train my Abdominal Muscles Every Day?
- ShapeFit.com: Overtraining & Exercise -- Identify Symptoms To Prevent Workout Issues
- MayoClinic.com: Amenorrhea -- Causes
- American Council on Exercise: New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises
- MuscleandStrength.com: The Great Abs Mistake -- Crunches and Situps and Still no Abs
Steven Kelliher is an experienced sports writer, technical writer, proofreader and editor based out of the Greater Boston Area. His main area of expertise is in combat sports, as he is a lifelong competitor and active voice in the industry. His interviews with some of the sport's biggest names have appeared on large industry sites such as ESPN.com, as well as his own personal blog.