Crunches are one of the top exercises to grow and strengthen your abs. Find out whether 200 repetitions a day will get you the results you want.
First of all, while it is possible that your ab muscles recover in time, you generally want to implement a rest day for the muscles you worked in a resistance training workout.
This can actually speed up results so if you are looking for ab muscle growth and strength progress, you generally don’t want to do crunches every day.
Next, if you can barely complete 200 crunches in around 4 or more sets and really push yourself to failure, a workout like this could help you grow and strengthen your ab muscles.
When this becomes too easy, you will mostly train ab muscle endurance instead.
Additionally, just because you can see results does not mean it is optimal. For somewhat stronger individuals, weighted crunches are generally more effective, convenient, and time-saving.
Lastly, growing your ab muscles does not necessarily lead to seeing your ab muscles. For this, you also need to lose enough belly fat.
Potentially muscle growth and strength progress
Crunches are mainly a rectus abdominis (ab muscle) resistance training exercise. That means you mainly do this movement to grow, strengthen, and improve endurance in this area.
This section focuses on the growth and strength parts. These are related to muscle endurance but not entirely the same.
To grow and strengthen muscles you have to pressure them with enough resistance, do enough repetitions, give your body enough nutrients, and give your body enough rest.
The main concern when someone is able to do 200 crunches in one workout session is that the bodyweight version of the exercise could be too easy to see progress.
While this can be the case, something important to note is that the results of some studies imply that doing resistance training with only 30% of 1 RM can be enough to grow muscles (1).
To do this you do have to really push yourself to failure. This tends to be more challenging in movements with a small amount of resistance.
This extra muscle growth will help with strength to some extent too. However, if improving ab strength (how much force this muscle can generate) is your main goal you likely want to do fewer repetitions with more resistance.
In short, doing 200 bodyweight crunches in one workout could offer muscle growth and some strength increases if you can barely complete this amount in around 4 or more sets and really push yourself to failure.
If you ever get to a point where you can do these crunches in fewer sets, this exercise will likely be too easy to see a lot of results.
Is it optimal?
Aiming for a goal like 200 crunches a day, hitting it, and sticking to it can be fun and offer some valuable benefits.
At the same time, that does not mean this routine is optimal.
Really pushing yourself to failure in high-repetition sets can be challenging and uncomfortable. This is an important aspect of 200 crunches and if you don’t do it, it will reduce your results a lot.
On the flip side, when doing weighted crunches where you hold resistance against your chest, this is less important to see muscle growth and strength progress and easier to do.
Additionally, doing fewer repetitions with more weight will some you some time.
So while you can see results with high-repetition sets of crunches, it is generally a better idea for muscle growth and strength progress to do weighted sets with fewer repetitions.
The second important part to look at in the 200 crunches a day routine is the “a day” part.
Resistance training exercises like crunches actually damage your muscles during the workout itself. This sounds bad but starts a variety of internal processes that can make you stronger and healthier in the long term.
The main thing to keep in mind about this is that your body still needs time (and nutrients) to complete these processes. If you work the same muscles again too soon, you will reduce your results.
It is possible that you recover from the 200 crunches in 24 hours. However, most people want to implement at least one extra rest day to make sure they avoid overtraining.
Improved ab muscle endurance
Muscle growth and strength were discussed in-depth because they are typically the main goals of doing crunches. However, there are also other benefits you can get from doing 200 crunches a day.
Your muscles are made up of different types of muscle fibers that have their own advantages and disadvantages (2). How you train can influence what ratio of fibers certain muscles have.
When you get up to a point where 200 crunches are not that challenging anymore and/or you don’t push yourself to failure enough for muscle growth, you start working more on muscle endurance.
Muscle endurance comes down to how long a muscle can perform under pressure.
Improving this in your abs can be helpful for activities and exercises where you stand up for extended periods of time.
You do also want good muscle endurance in other core muscles like your obliques and erector spinae in situations like this.
Burning a few extra calories
This next result of doing 200 crunches a day is definitely not that impressive but it can be fun to know.
By moving more intensely, your body will require more energy which is also known as burning more calories.
Exactly how much this will be for you personally depends on things like your body weight, body composition, hormone levels, speed, etc. However, there are ways to make rough estimations.
If you assume the crunches are done at a speed of about 30 repetitions per minute, 200 crunches will more or less burn the following amounts of calories for different body weights:
- 125 pounds (56 kg) body weight: 30 calories
- 155 pounds (70 kg) body weight: 37 calories
- 185 pounds (83 kg) body weight: 44 calories
- 215 pounds (97 kg) body weight: 51 calories
This is definitely not the most impressive for 400 seconds (6.67 minutes) of exercise. You should not really do 200 or more crunches a day for their calorie-burning effects even if you do them for a month or a year.
That being said, you can still see weight loss results with this routine and without any exercise at all. Other lifestyle habits like nutrition are typically very important for this goal.
Other things to keep in mind
With the information above, you should be able to know more or less what results you can expect from doing this type of crunch workout routine. Even so, there are still two other important things to note.
First of all, your body also needs enough nutrients, especially protein but also vitamins, minerals, etc., to repair and grow the ab muscles you worked.
If you are implementing the right workout routine (including rest) but not seeing increases in the number of repetitions and sets you can do, you likely want to take another look at your diet.
Secondly, you need to know that everyone has abs but that these are often hidden behind a layer of body fat.
Even if doing 200 crunches a day would grow your abs, they could still be hidden behind belly fat.
To see the visual results of your ab exercises, you would have to lose this body fat in other ways.