Does Doing Crunches Before Bed Help?

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If you have a busy schedule full of appointments, family obligations and work stress, finding the time to exercise can be a challenge. Exercising before bed is one way to squeeze in your daily workout, and doing crunches before bed can help tone your stomach muscles. If you're trying to lose fat, though, crunches likely won't be enough.

Does It Work?

  • Exercise will burn roughly the same number of calories no matter when you do it, so doing crunches before bed won't make a significant difference compared to exercising at other times when it comes to burning calories. A crunch is a muscle-strengthening exercise, which means that it tones your muscles but doesn't burn as many calories as aerobic exercise. If you need to get rid of fat in your abs, add in calorie-burning activities, such as running or biking, that can help you create a daily calorie deficit that can help burn fat. Heavy cardio can give you an energy boost that makes it harder to sleep, so try doing your cardio a few hours before bed and sticking to light abdominal exercises before you go to sleep.

Proper Crunches

  • Doing crunches won't do you much good if you're doing them wrong. For maximum benefits, you'll need to ensure you have correct posture and push the small of your back into the ground. This engages your stomach muscles. Then, use your stomach muscles, rather than your back or hands, to lift your torso and head off of the ground. Exhale as you crunch up, then inhale as you return to the ground.

Effects on Sleep

  • You might worry that doing crunches right before bed will interfere with your sleep, but according to the "Well" column in "The New York Times," there's little scientific evidence that light exercise will interfere with your sleep. Try doing crunches when you don't have to get up early the next day, and if you have no trouble sleeping, stick to the routine. Otherwise, you might want to try getting up a little earlier or working out an hour or two before bed.

Other Ab Exercises

  • Expanding your ab workout can give you even more muscle definition. Try bicycle crunches to tone your obliques or embrace the challenge of a plank. To do the plank, simply lie on your stomach, then rise onto your forearms while balancing on your toes and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat five to 10 times. A captain's chair exercise, in which you use your stomach muscles to lift your legs while positioned in a captain's chair, can also help you shape your abs.

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