If a little belly fat has crept into your midsection, you’re not alone. Millions of women struggle with the same problem and struggle daily to try and tone and shape their belly into a flat, strong mass of muscle. But the good news is that it can be done. By following a healthy diet and exercise plan -- one that includes strength-training moves such as the all-powerful reverse crunch -- you can say adios to belly fat and hello to sexy abs.
The real answer to the question of whether reverse crunches help you lose belly fat is tricky. It’s more no with a little yes. The only way you can get fat to melt off your body is to create a deficit in the number of calories you take in versus what you expend. It takes a negative total of 3,500 calories to torch a pound of fat, which can only be done by eating less and working out more. Because cardio exercise burns more calories than strength training, it gives you faster results.
Still, doing reverse crunches can help you lose belly fat by helping you develop muscle. Your body uses more energy sustaining lean muscle tissue than it does fat, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn. So in that sense, yes, reverse crunches do help you lose belly fat. Just not at a speedy rate.
Even with cardio and strength training, though, you still can’t tell your body where you want to keep your fat and where you want to lose it. When you spend more calories than you take in, your body will shed fat from head to toe -- period. No amount of spot-training will change that. What it will do, however, is create lean muscle under the fat that can be revealed as you lose weight. And that’s just the case with reverse crunches.
The Purpose of Reverse Crunches
Instead of focusing on losing belly fat by doing reverse crunches, you should focus on developing your ab strength. That’s what reverse crunches do. Then, in order to burn fat, focus on eating right and getting in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. Include an overall strength-training plan for muscle development and let the body shed its fat from head to toe. You’ll find that your belly is just one area that shrinks down and shapes up.
Doing Reverse Crunches
When doing reverse crunches as part of your total wellness plan, you can get a powerful workout for your lower abs, which will do more than give you a toned tummy. It will also help you develop a strong core, helping prevent back injuries and giving you better posture and balance. To do reverse crunches, lie on your back on a workout mat with your arms at your sides and your legs lifted off the ground and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle for your starting position. Lift your hips off the floor and curl your legs toward your torso until they reach your chest. Hold the position for two to three seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 to 20 times for two to three sets, and adjust that number as you get stronger. Be sure to maintain proper form, especially keeping your back flat, and always consult your physician before taking on any new exercises, including reverse crunches.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.