Over the years, the standard sit-up has evolved into the crunch. The main reason is due to the neck and back strain that sit-ups can cause. If you have access to a computer or TV, then you’ve probably seen infomercials that advertise all sorts of ab machines for the home. The main benefits of these gadgets are that they provide extra support for your neck and back, and ensure that you use perfect form for each crunch rep. But you can still get a great workout without spending $100 or $200 for an ab machine. Here are some tips for getting the most out of crunches:
1. Remember to do cardio.
The key to getting six-pack abs is transforming your tummy flab, into lean muscle. One key component is exercises like crunches, which target your ab muscles. But you’ll also need to do some cardio exercises, to put your metabolism in overdrive. In turn, the crunches will become more effective. If your health condition permits it, do high-intensity cardio exercises, to get the best results. Increasing your metabolism will help to turn your body into a fat-burning machine. And that includes your ab fat!
2. Work your abs hard.
You should do crunches and other ab exercises on a daily basis, since ab muscles can recover quite quickly. Instead of counting reps, some people do crunches until they reach (muscular) “failure.” If that method is too strenuous for you, it’s still advisable that you do crunches for a certain number of minutes, rather than tracking how many reps that you do. To make your crunches more challenging, use a medicine ball or an inclined bench to create more resistance. You could also do plank exercises prior to crunches, or do your crunches at the end of your workout-to exhaust your abs.
3. Use correct form.
Yes, crunches are easier on your neck and back, than sit-ups are. But it’s still crucial to use proper form when doing crunches. That will maximize the benefit of doing the exercises, and help to prevent injuries. The essence of the form is making your abs (rather than your neck or back) do all the work. When lifting your head off the ground, focus on lifting it straight up, instead of curling it forwards. You should also avoid locking your hands behind your head, and instead cross your arms across your chest, or place your fingertips on your temples. This will further help to prevent neck injuries.
4. Do variations.
There are several types of crunches that you can include in your workout, as well as variations of those types. Use several variations, to work your different ab muscles, and to keep your workout enjoyable. Variety is indeed the spice of life. Abs focus on the upper abs and obliques, so you should do other exercises (such as leg raises) to give your lower abs a workout.
If you want washboard abs, then crunches should definitely be a part of your workout routine. But remember that doing crunches properly is just as important as doing them.