Crunches work the upper abdominal area and are a good part of your abdominal training, but did you know that they are an overused exercise (to much flexion and not enough extension of the spine) and....
- If done improperly, crunches can cause injury to your low back.
- If done on the floor or a machine ONLY (and with neck support), crunches can cause your cervical flexors to weaken (neck).
- If you ONLY do crunches and do not incorporate a complete core training program, you can create muscle imbalances and encourage poor posture!
- Too many crunches can cause your abdominal muscles to shorten which will lead to poor posture.
First: STOP doing all those crunches on the floor–in fact stop doing SO many crunches...period! These are two common mistakes made in training and will only lead to muscle imbalances, poor posture, and neck issues. Abdominal training should include all of the abdominal muscles (and related muscle groups); external and internal obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, psoas, quadratus lumborum, and cervical flexors.
Second: MAKE SURE your abdominal training is done with the proper technique.
Third: KNOW that you CAN NOT SPOT REDUCE FAT, so doing all the abdominal training in the world will not reduce the fat in that area. Abdominal training (all weight training) will tone and shape the muscles underneath the layer (s) of fat, but if you do not reduce the fat in that area you will NEVER see those hard earned muscles! Lowering your overall body-fat percentage (around 10-18% on average) is the key to unveiling that shapely, sexy, and firm body you are building through weight training! The goal is to "GET LEAN & FIRM"! In order to get lean and firm (including but not limited to "six-pack abs", a small waistline, and/or a flat stomach) you will need to incorporate a proper diet and add both cardiovascular conditioning and weight training into your regime–this will ensure you build muscle and lose the fat!
Fourth: Since the abdominal muscles are just like other muscle groups, you DON'T need to train them every day.
Fifth: Make sure you ADD a comprehensive flexibility training program to your routine to enhance your joints' ability to move through a full range of motion. Keeping your muscles flexible will help improve physical performance and posture, reduce the risk of injury, will make you function better, and much more!
Here are a few ways you can do your crunches -- the right and effective way!
#1 Swiss Ball Crunch (my favorite)!
- Arms out
- Arms close to chest
- Arms above head
#2 Cable Crunch
- With Swiss Ball
- Standard Cable Crunch from Knees
#3 Straight Arm- Lat Pull Down
To learn more about Core Conditioning in its entirety see my blog "Six-Pack Abs–Small Waistline: The Smart Way!"
Exercise tips from MY DIVA DIET www.MyDivaDiet.com