When most fitness enthusiasts think of training the abdominal muscles- part of the “core”, they automatically think about crunches, the old standby. However, exercise physiologists and most knowledgeable personal trainers know that crunches are NOT the best, nor safest way, to train the abdominals.
First and foremost- a reminder- abdominal exercises DO NOT burn the fat over the abdominal area. ANY infomercial or product that claims to do so is lying. You can not spot reduce any body part- abs or otherwise. To lose fat over the torso/waist area, you must eat well and expend more calories in activity than you take in for nutrition. The End. A “six pack”, unachievable for 90% of us, is ONLY due to leanness. It is merely the visual pattern of the muscle fibers and tendons that lie over your abdomen, and ALL of us have a six pack…somewhere.
TRUE abdominal strength- not just leanness- is best built by “core” exercises that require the abdominals to hold the spine rigid and still. Exercises such as planks, side planks, physio ball walk and roll outs, push ups, etc. are, by far, the BEST exercises to do this.
Furthermore, crunches are problematic because they work the spine in flexion- or rounding- and this is the worst position for the spine. We all spend way too much time with our spine in flexed positions- think of slouching at your desk or on the couch- so why would we want to continue to work our muscles in this fashion? It is even worse for those of you with back problems.
So- skip the crunches, add the planks, and eat well. You’ll look great and have a healthy back too!