I see more flat stomach and six-pack ab infomercials everyday that revolve around the classic crunch move.
We all know this move: lie on the floor on your back, grab the back of your head with your hands and pull it two inches off the floor. I think it’s safe to say this method does not work very well for building your 6-pack abs and flattening out your stomach.
[There's nothing intense about this exercise. Look at this poor girl's facial expression! Not another time wasting crunch, please...]
Aside from them being useless for getting six pack abs, the crunch movement itself is actually harmful to your spine and lower back. Every single time you perform a crunch, you are doing what the world’s leading experts on back pain describe as a dangerous motion.
Research shows every time you crunch, you do what is called spinal flexion, and spinal flexion compresses the disks between your vertebrae. If you do that too much, you could end up with a herniated disc. It’s the same motion as rounding your back to pick up something off the floor, and you probably know someone who has hurt their back that way!
Total body ab exercises are more effective.
Instead of wasting your life lying on your back doing an exercise that you can do hundreds of times, you need to replace crunches and all those other 1980s aerobics style exercises with better, total body ab exercises to get more results in less time.
So you don’t need to do crunches, and you don’t even need to go to a gym, if you have the right total body ab exercises in your home abdominal workout program says Craig Ballantyne, Men’s Health Training Advisor and Author. “In fact, with the right program, your entire fat loss workout will take less time than most bodybuilders spend on crunches every day! Yet you’ll still be able to get a flat stomach and six packs abs with this fast at-home workout.”
[I just couldn't resist this video. Four ladies wasting their time in almost perfect unison. Crunch after crunch and not a drop of sweat. Not good!]
Forget long boring cardio sessions.
I used to spend an hour walking on a treadmill while watching the timer or other gym goers walk by. Long boring cardio sessions suck, plain and simple. With the ab erecises explained below, your entire workout (including your resistance training) will take less time (45 minutes tops) than most people spend getting to the gym and warming-up.
And you only have to workout three times per week, not six days per week like the bodybuilding magazines suggest. So you save time in each workout, and workout fewer times per week. That will give you more time to spend* on the important stuff in life like connecting with your family and enjoying the company of friends.
Ab workout exercises that work.
Ballantyne details his top abdominal exercise replacements for ineffective crunches and other 1980s style ab moves.
1. Replace crunches with stability ball rollouts (see video below). You’ll get a more powerful stretch in the Rollout exercise, and a more powerful contraction, all without doing excessive and dangerous spinal flexion.
2. Replace crunches on the ball with a plank with arms on the ball. According to the Men’s Health magazine, research shows that a plank with arms on the ball is 30% more effective in working your abs.
3. Replace bicycle crunches with X-Body mountain climbers (see video below). This unique total-body ab exercise still works your obliques, but without repetitive crunching. Plus, it helps build invaluable abdominal endurance and stability to keep your low back healthy.
4. Replace reverse crunches with stability ball Jackknives (see video below). You will still be able to work the lower area of your abdominal muscles, as well as your obliques with this stability ball exercise, but you also get the benefit of building back-protecting abdominal endurance.
5. Replace sit-ups with hanging knee-ups or the advanced pull-up plus knee-ups. Your abs will have never experienced anything like this exercise! You can also do a chin-up plus knee-up for the same effect on your abs, and chin-ups are a little easier. This is one of my current favorite exercises.
By getting rid of crunches you’ll lose nothing, while gaining time to work on better exercises to build your six pack abs and flat stomach, plus you’ll avoid exercises that are hard on your back.
For more detailed descriptions of all of these home ab exercises as well as more techniques for losing abdominal fat, click here for more great abs training strategies.
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