Stomach Crunches Don’t Work to Get Abs – And They Never Will

I’m always amazed at how many people in the gym nowadays spend hours doing stomach crunches. Yet to no avail as their bodies never ever change.

The truth is this.. Crunches don’t work and they never will. A couple of years ago, Men’s Health magazine made a big deal about a research study proving you would need to do 20,000 crunches to burn 1 pound of belly fat. Twenty thousand!Even a “crunch fanatic” would need a few days to do 20,000 crunches. The bottom line is that ab crunches are a HUGE waste of time when you are trying to lose belly fat.

You would probably get better abs from not even working that area. You see, we all have abdominals there just hidden under our party pack. 6 pack abs will come from doing high intensity work involving many muscles in the body to achieve fat loss. Not a burnt out mid section from doing too many crunches each week. Weight is also a very poor measure to go by, when you get to the stage of having minimal body fat and you want to reveal your abs, chances are you will make small gains in weight as the core musculature will weigh more than the flabby bits you are looking to burn off.

Abs are not supercharged you do not need to do 600 sit ups a day, besides the fact that this is dangerous. Imagine this- a man walks into a gym does 3 sets of 200 bench presses and the 3 sets of 200 pull ups and so on.. That would be ridiculous! The high reps for tone myth is stuff of the dark ages now, you need to get with the times, the abs like any musculature of the body need to be worked within normal hypertrophy (size gaining) rep ranges and tempos in order to develop muscle tone. Toning does NOT happen with more repetitions of a movement! The core zone (mid section) also needs to be worked using bridging (stabilisation) exercises as well as rotation and extension. Not just constant bouts of spine flexion.

As well as being absolutely useless the constant movement pattern of spine flexion (stomach crunches) will lead to lower back pain and a nasty bit of flab storage just at the bottom of the stomach. This is because generally you will have the hips flexed tightly in this crunch position. Constant flexing in this position can lead to the pelvic bones being pulled forward out of optimal alignment with the skeleton. Okay this becomes technical, but simply put you will be pulling the lower back in more tightly causing a tightness often leading to lower back ache.

This pelvic tilt will also allow visceral (internal organs of the gut) to almost spill out forwards from the pelvis. This results in the small pouch of fat that a lot of people get right at the bottom of your stomach. This commonly seen with people that crunch with very poor technique and get really flexed at the hips. This can also lead to very poor core development, and incorrect firing sequences, through the TVA (transversus abdominas) which can result in problems at the hips.

All told, we need to put a stop to the abdominal crunch before more people damage themselves. If they got results the people that did them the most, would have great abs. As Paul Mort says ‘”the best abs exercise you can do is called the ‘plate push away’ that plate of pasta push it away”. On serious note, if you want abs, firstly you need address your nutrition, your eating habits need to be sound to get you losing the fat. Secondly you need to address the core zone with stabilisation exercises such as plank and side plank; Rotational exercises such as Russian twists and Woodchops; And flexion and extension exercises such as stability ball full range abs draw ins.

To target Fat Loss- this is the main component of having visible abs. You need to look at high intensity interval training protocols. Preferably compound resistance movements, put together in circuit and complex style formats as well as brutal interval cardio sessions.

Tim Megginson