What is it with middle age men and the seated crunch machine?

They put the pin at the bottom, then yank with their arms and let the weight stack crash at the bottom, rep after rep.

The other day this happened again. At first I thought there was some minor construction going on, as I kept hearing BANG! BANG! BANG!

But I saw nobody slamming down a hammer. Instead I saw a pudgy middle aged man on the seated crunch machine.

It’s the same scenario nearly every single time:

• Middle age man with paunch or overall overweight body

• Weight stack is maximum or pin near the bottom

• He lets the weights loudly crash back into the stack before every next repetition.

Not only is the noise racket rude (and loud enough to, if done often enough, damage the man’s hearing), but this type of “training” will do absolutely zilch for burning belly fat.

Why don’t heavy seated crunches burn belly fat?

These men believe that they’re targeting their stomach (abs) with all the weight of the stack.

Fj.toloza992, CC BY-SA

What’s really happening is that they’re pulling (arm/shoulder muscles) on the machine’s handles, yanking at them, to fold the machine into a crunch.

Their abs and stomach are doing very little to propel this movement. Their arms and shoulders are doing just about all the work.

And it’s really not that much work, when you compare it to the work involved in performing classic compound moves like the deadlift, squat, bench press, leg press and kettlebell swing.

And even if the abs WERE targeted, this is just as useless as crunches on the floor for burning belly fat.

The seated crunch machine is a gimmick that health clubs install because they know it’ll always draw users.

The fitness director knows that it’s a useless piece of equipment for getting rid of belly fat. It’s also useless for strengthening the core.

Alternatives to Seated Crunch Machine that Will Burn Belly Fat

• Deadlift
• Squat
• Bench Press
• Cable Row
• Overhead Press
• Corner Row
• Leg Press
• Kettlebell Swing
• High Intensity Interval Training
• Sled Work

To burn belly fat you must force your body to raid the fat in your stomach and use it for recovery fuel.

The seated crunch machine won’t cause this reaction.

Five sets of deadlifts done with a five-rep max WILL. Giant compound moves work so much muscle tissue, that when done intensely, plunge the body into a state of considerable deficit in the hours after the workout is finished.

During this deficit, the body ransacks fat stores for recovery fuel. This is called the “afterburn.” If you overeat, you will cancel out the afterburn.

Middle age men who want to get rid of the fat in their belly or whole body need to stop wasting their time on the seated crunch machine. And stop slamming the weight stack.

You may not care about your hearing, but at least have consideration for those around you.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.