Churning out those crunches in the hope of getting a washboard-stomach? You need to read this first.
Toned abs don't just look great, they're also vital for good posture and avoiding lower back pain.
But there's a limit to how far the exercises, known as crunches, will go toward getting you those six-pack abs. These exercises create definition, but they won't get rid of belly fat, according to a report in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
That goal needs the one-two punch of exercise to firm muscle and diet to reduce fat. That being said, crunches belong in a core workout – that's one that targets all the muscles in your torso.
When it comes to crunches, working smarter is more important than doing hundreds of them.
Improve your ab workout with these quick tips:
- Increase the number of reps per set.
- Increase the number of sets.
- Shorten resting time between sets.
- Increase the angle of exercises.
- Wear ankles weights for more resistance.
- Hold a weight plate against your chest.
Here are specific pointers to improve the effectiveness of the most popular exercises:
1. The basic crunch
For the basic crunch, lie on your back, knees slightly bent, feet flat on the floor and hip distance apart. Breathe in, then exhale as you tighten your abs and lift your head and shoulders toward the ceiling. Do not curl up toward your knees. Hold briefly, then slowly return to the starting position, inhaling as you lower yourself to the floor. Start with 10 reps done in good form – no jerking or rushing.