Simply put Crunches are old school in a bad way, and abdominal stabilization exercises are new school in a good way. Throw in some other exercises that don’t cause excessive flexion of the spine and you have a killer ab routine.
Our Abdominal muscle’s primary job is to stabilize, control, and provide a link between our upper body and lower body. Crunches do not provide stability training unless on a stability ball, and even then the results are not what they could be. Think about it for a minute, how often during the course of the day do we stand up, walk around upright, lift overhead, carry things in our arms, squat, etc. Now think about how many times we slouch or flex our spine in a crunching motion.
If we didn’t brace using our abdominals, we would fall over and would end up having to walk on all fours. So we need to train our abdominals for what they were meant to do. And we need to overload them in such a way that we are still stabilizing but not in an every day way. Training your abs just be doing heavy squats isn’t going to get you a flat stomach, but manipulating your bodyweight or additional weight to overload the abs in particular will help you get that flat six pack you so desperately want. Here are my top six pack abs exercises without the use of crunches.
Planks- Planks are a huge stabilizer and can be done anywhere, and are much more beneficial than crunches. Get into a push up position and hold for designated time.
Hanging Leg Raises- Hanging Leg Raises are a little more challenging but have huge rewards in regard to fat loss and lower ab work. Find a bar overhead and hang with both hands while lifting your knees to your chest. You can also perform with straight legs by lifting them out in front of you as high as you can.
Brazilian Crunches- Not a crunch at all. Brazilian Crunches hits those obliques or your sides of your abs, plus it has a cool name:). Get into a push up position and bring one leg across the body in a diagonal fashion in an attempt to touch the elbow on the opposite side of your body. Return that leg to the starting position then repeat to the other side. Think of it as a diagonal mountain climber.
Wood Chops- Wood Chops are another oblique hitter that strengthens your rotational control creating a solid strong mid section. With a moderate weight start at the hip or mid thigh of one side of your body. Then with rapid force, lift the weight in a diagonal fashion to the shoulder on the opposite side of the body. Chop back down to the starting position. Repeat to the other side.
What all of these have in common is they are safe and have your overall health AND fat loss efforts in mind. Crunches, well, not so much.