To crunch or not to crunch, that is the question!

The idea of doing crunches is to make the abdominal muscles bigger, stand out more and give us our ‘six pack’ effect.  But the fact is we all have a six pack under our body fat just waiting to be exposed. It’s through correct diet and exercise that your dream of having rippled stomach muscles will finally be revealed.

The most effective way of chiseling the rectus abdominal muscles (six pack) is NOT BY DOING CONTINUOUS CRUNCHES!!! “Ho hum, boring”……  and by the way if you have disc, spinal, back, neck or shoulder injuries doing crunches can do more harm than good!

According to a study published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy last year, the best way to target your rectus abdominal muscles is to do the exact opposite of a crunch (where you bend your spine)- a Swiss ball rollout (where you brace your spine).  In the Swiss ball rollout you place your fists on a ball and extend your body into bridge position.  This exercise is not new but just a dynamic version of the plank which is one of the oldest exercises for building strong core and lower back muscles to support your spine.

Studies have shown that doing rollouts and planks work your upper and lower abdominals about 25 per cent more than a crunch or sit-up.  They are much more effective in creating functional core strength that is in turn going to prevent back injuries in the future and enable you to perform everyday activities or sport better.  In a plank you are getting an entire core workout including glutes, upper/lower back, shoulder girdle, chest and all abdominal muscles.

There are many ways to do a plank and once you can hold if for 60 to 90 seconds move on to a more challenging version.

So to break it down simply –

  • watch your diet,
  • do cardio workouts (running, walking, rowing, aerobic classes) to raise the heart rate, burn calories and lower body fat mixed in with some resistance training to increase overall muscular strength, tone and increase metabolic rate.
  •  This is what will set you on the path to a healthy, strong body and of course great looking abs.

If you are looking for a functional program to challenge your core then try Lesmills CXWORX!!