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Do These Crunches Make Me Look Fat? 5 Exercises You Might Want to Rethink

woman doing crunches

So, you’re hitting the gym hard, right? You’re feeling determined and excited about turning your body into what you want it to be. Flat abs, toned legs, a lifted butt…girl, you know what I’m talking about! And yet, after all your efforts the whole process seems incredibly slow and the results seem to be nowhere in sight.

Often times we associate pain and exhaustion with a successful workout. When our abs hurt, our legs are sore, and we feel like we might fall over from exhaustion, we immediately pat ourselves on the back. This is not to say that the work you’re putting in is useless (be proud of your hard work, boo!), but some exercises may not be as effective as you think they are. In fact, the fat just seems to be sitting there.  A lack of results can be incredibly frustrating and often drive us to quit because we feel like we aren’t making any progress.

Chin up, doll! We may have just figured out what may be causing you to plateau in your workouts. Here are a few exercises that are commonly believed to yield the best results but actually may be hurting you more than they help you. We also have listed some great counter exercises to try; these may be useful in helping you reach your fitness goals.

Sit Ups

Believe it or not, sit ups do not do as much for your abs as most people think they do. Sit ups and crunches only work a small section of your core, and while they do do some damage in eliminating belly fat, it takes a very long time. Each and every one has to be done precisely. If you’re looking to see some flatter abs soon, try planks and side planks. WARNING: These will hurt. You will feel it after the first one. And you may only be able to do seven or eight on your first try. That’s perfectly fine. Start with eight on each side, and work your way up slowly. Again, these exercises are a lot harder to do than sit ups or crunches, but they do work.


The Squat Machine

Most people think that the squat machine is the ultimate tool for achieving a gorgeous butt. All the added weights mean increased efforts, and once again that familiar feeling of exhaustion once your done convinces us that we have actually done something that. Surprisingly, you actually get much better results just doing them all on your own and leveraging your own body weight. In fact, squats burn more calories per rep than almost any other exercise. And they don’t just work out your legs. They tone your butt, abs, and burn fat all over your body. They even promote strong bones and joints, and help build muscle that help regulate glucose and metabolism. Step away from the machine, and let your body put the work in.


Improper Lunges

Lunges are a great exercise and a great way to work out your abs, buns, and thighs. Doing them improperly however, not only yields less results, but can also result in injury. Here are a few things to remember when doing lunges. Keep your back straight when you are lowering your body straight down. Make sure that your front leg is far enough forward that when you are lowering your body, your front knee is in alignment with your ankle. Go down until you are hit 90 degrees and then come back up. Also try to keep your weight on the back portion of your front foot during the exercise. Ready. Steady. Go.


The Treadmill

Solely running on a treadmill does not do much for weight loss. It does have some major benefits, such as improving heart and bone health. It also has mental and emotional benefits, such as reducing stress and anxiety, and releasing endorphins that give you a sense of well being. It even helps motivate you to continue to exercise. But if you are relying solely on this to get rid of fat and help you lose weight, your results are going to be a lot slower than you want. To combat this, try concentrating on a more intense workout as opposed to a longer one. Intense workouts increase your human growth hormone and release more T3, which is a hormone essential for burning fat. When on the treadmill, do a quick warm up for about 5-10 minutes, and then run hard enough that your breathing is labored for two minutes. Decrease for one minute, and then increase again for two. Repeat this for about 30 minutes. Then take a break from the treadmill. Running this way will do a lot more for you, then keeping a steady pace for a full hour. Remember it’s about quality, not quantity.


Spot Reduction

As wonderful as it would be to be able to burn fat from one or two areas of our body, just doing one or two exercises to those specific parts is not productive. When you are taking in more calories than you burn, the fat is going to stay. Dr. Oz put it this way. The most common place you first notice weight loss in yourself or someone else is in their face. But you don’t see anyone running around doing face crunches right? Your body dictates where it is going to burn the fat, not you. And everyone’s body is different. So your best bet is to try and lose weight overall. Workout your entire body and you’ll see results faster. Lower your calorie and carb intake and eat more protein and vegetables. Trust me, if there was an easy way to do this, no one would have a weight issue. It requires that you put in the time, effort, and make healthy (although harder) food choices. Overtime, you’ll get where you want to be — I can guarantee it.

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