Trade Your Crunches for These More Effective Ab Exercises

photo credit: HotlantaVoyeur via photopin cc

photo credit: HotlantaVoyeur via photopin cc

Are you still doing dozens of crunches in the hopes of getting flat, washboard abs?

Traditional crunches are not only old news but we now know that tradiitonal sit ups and crunches put too much stress on the spine and discs.  Here are some safe alternatives to help build rock hard abs.

The most effective ab exercises strengthen your core as a whole – which helps prevent dreaded back pain, increases your agility and, of course, makes you look good.

In your new ab routine the focus is on quality over quantity. A few concentrated movements are always more effective than dozen and dozens of old fashion crunches.   Remember focus in your friend.  Do not merely “go thru the motions”.  Do each repitition with deliberate movement.

1) Plank: When performed correctly, a simple plank is one of the most effective ways to tighten your entire core. Proper form is key. Keep your back flat and your belly button pulled in toward your spine.

Lie face down on mat resting on your forearms, palms flat on the floor. Push off the floor, raising up onto your toes and resting on your elbows. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle. 

2) Pallof Press – This is the king of core exercises.  Anti rotation (torso does not twist); anti flexion and anti extension.  In other words, your abs (core) are working overtime to keep you in an upright position without moving side to side, rotating or learning forward or back.  This trains your core in the exact way these muscles have been designed to work.

You will be using a weight stack with a cable or if no weights are available you can tie some tubing onto something secure and using the tubing instead.

Set the handle of the cable (or tubing) at chest height.  Position yourself in a half kneeling position.  The knee closest to the handle will be on the floor.  Your other foot will be out front in line with your hip.  Think of the bottom position of a lunge.  Hold the handle with your hand closest to the weight stack with your other hand on top.  Hold your handle at the center of your chest.  Inhale to start and then push your hands out front until your arms are straight out in front.  Exhale as you push.  Hold this extended position for 5 seconds and repeat for 8 repititions.

3) McGill Crunches – This form of crunch is safe for your back and takes all stress off your discs.  Remember the rectus abdominis muscle has a very short range of motion so doing a full sit up does nothing but put undue stress on your spine.

Lie on your back on the floor.  One leg bent and one leg straight out in front.  Lay your arms on the floor beside your hips.  Keeping your chin tucked in, slide your hands toward your feet as you bring your shoulders just slightly off the floor.  Think of your chest going straight up to the ceiling, not toward your knees.  Remember the shoulders do not have to move much off the floor.

4) Side Plank: In yet another variation of the fantastic plank, Side Bridges are much more challenging that they appear at first glance. While the focus is mainly on your waist, due to the stabilizing nature of this exercise, you’re also working your entire core as a whole.

Put your feet and legs together as you lie on your right side. Place your right arm under your body and lift your upper body so that your right elbow is directly under your shoulder. Your left hand should be resting on your left hip. From this position, slowly raise your hips from the ground until a straight line is formed from your ankles to your shoulders. Hold the position for a moment, slowly return to the starting position, and repeat. 

Even the best exercise routine in the world is fruitless if you throw away your results with sloppy eating. Remember to keep your meals lean by avoiding processed carbs, packaged foods or fried items. Fill up on lean proteins and fresh vegetables and reward yourself with organic, seasonal fruit. That, my friend, is lean living!

Ready to take your fitness results to the next level? Call or email me today and we will get you started on an exercise program that’s designed to deliver massive results. Come on, you deserve it!

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    One Response to “Trade Your Crunches for These More Effective Ab Exercises”


    Congrats. I’m an endo aswell, and I have this woruokt plan for losing bodyfat + keeping your muscles in shape.Monday and Thursday: Cardio 45 minutes low intensity at 70-75% max heart rate.Tuesday: Chest and QuadsWednesday: Back and HamstringsFriday: Shoulders and ArmsSaturday: Cardio 45 minutes low intensity at 70-75% max heart rate.It’s very helpful for me. Best of luck,Joe


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