Why Ab Crunches Suck.
Einstein is quoted as having said that the definition of insanity “is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Which leads me to beg the question why, oh why, do people still continue to do abdominal crunches expecting a 6-pak and a functional midsection in return?
Chiseled Abs Can Be Yours
If crunches were the answer to a toned tummy, our athletes would never assume a plank position and the average human being would have a chiseled God and Goddess-like physique.
But, alas, our athletes are very rarely doing sets of crunches to prepare them for their sport, and Canada is currently sitting at a 59% overweight and obesity statistic (Stats Can 2010).
Something is clearly not working with those crunches, and we need to try something very different if we want to see different results.
First off, let’s review why abdominal crunches don’t work.
Number one: you can’t spot train. This simply means that you cannot take a certain section of your body, like your abdominals, and perform hundreds of repetitions for that body part in hopes of decreasing the size of that body part. You can try all you want, heck you can even stare it down while you are exercising and yell at it, but it still won’t work.
Basic physiology tells us that fat is utilized as a fuel using the stores throughout the body, not at one certain location.
Number two: while one of the functions the abdominals’ provide our body is flexing the spine, that flexing activity (which is essentially what you do when you perform a crunch or a curl-up) is not functional at all.
Ab Crunches Are Awesome – If You Want To Roll Out of Bed Better
Think about it. How often do you actually roll the spine, while on your back, on a day-to-day basis? I can think of one time and one time only – to get out of bed in the morning. And, while the thought of perfecting that movement is great, it’s not really why I go to the gym.
The abdominals are actually used (during our waking hours) as stabilizers to the spine. Now, please understand that I am being very general here (before all you trainers and physiotherapists start emailing me). The abs are also used throughout the day for twisting, bending, assistance on breathing and so forth, but if you were to break down, percentage wise, what the abdominal muscles did during most of their waking hours it would be to stabilize and assist our spine and our posture.
Taking that into consideration, you can now see why an abdominal crunch will not help you out in daily living, and provide even less help in sport.
How To Train Your Core Like a Pro
More preferable exercises are ones that lengthen the body and then use the abdominals to hold that position, like planks, push-ups or a boat pose. We also need exercises that ask the abdominals to assist in stabilizing the spine, such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, pull-ups and power cleans.
Finally, you need exercises in your routine that also engage the rotational and twisting ability of our midsection. These include reverse woodchops, anti-rotational movements with tubing or the Rip Trainer and Russian twists with the medicine ball.
And last, but not least, if getting rid of that fat is what you really want, then you need to take a long hard look at what you are eating. Great abs are actually cooked in the kitchen first and then trained hard in the gym.
Try our Crunch Free Ab Workout!