Most traditional core exercises are not scorching a lot of calories.
You can do crunches all day long and see no change to the fat you store around your midsection because your heart rate isn’t high enough, which means you aren’t burning calories at a significant rate. Again, it might feel as if you’re working hard because your ab muscles are burning and you can’t do more than 20 reps, but if you were to wear a heart rate monitor during crunches, it would show that your heart rate rarely gets above 90 beats per minute. When it comes to burning fat and losing weight, your heart rate is the prime indicator of success. It’s simple math: The higher your heart rate, the more calories you burn, and the more calories you burn, the more fat you lose. One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, so you need to focus on exercises that will get your heart rate high enough to burn the maximum amount of calories in the shortest amount of time.
The higher your heart rate, the more calories you burn, and the more calories you burn, the more fat you lose.
How will you know which types of workouts are maximizing your fat loss? In 2005, the Journal of Sports Sciences published a study that outlined an equation to predict the number of calories burned per hour based on your average heart rate. We can apply this equation to different types of sculpting and cardio routines to determine which ones deliver the best results. As the oft-used adage goes: Don’t work harder, work smarter.
Let’s take the old crunches-based core routine as a starting point for caloric burn. If we assume an average heart rate of 90 beats per minute (which is the heart rate most of my clients exhibit while doing crunches), a 40-year-old female who weighs 160 pounds will burn approximately 195 calories in an hour. You could burn that many calories in 20 minutes by doing a moderate jog. Plus, when was the last time you did crunches for an hour? Most of us can last about 1 minute, which translates into 3.25 calories burned— that’s less than the calorie content of a breath mint. This is one of the myriad reasons why you won’t see standard crunches in my Core Envy sculpting routines. Instead, I’ve focused on exercises that recruit more of the muscles in the core, therefore burning off calories faster by elevating your heart rate. Keep in mind, however, that in order to truly maximize the fat burn around your belly, these sculpting workouts need to be paired with cardio. Sculpting routines alone cannot ensure optimal caloric burn.
Allison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off. Her Core Envy program solves the problems other abs programs ignore with a three-part approach to slim down and tone up. You’ll clean up your diet, fire up your metabolism, and tighten up all the muscles of your core without a gym or equipment. In just three weeks, you’ll start seeing results.