Problems with Crunches and the Better Alternative
Some people believe that crunches are the key to getting flat abs, a “six pack” or chiseled midsection. Crunches seem to be the most iconic abdominal exercise, but when you do crunches this may not be the best way to slim down your mid section. When you do “crunches” they don’t burn off a lot of calories and they don’t help a great deal in weight loss. Crunches will tone a small portion of your abs (upper abdominals), but to get the full effect you need to do more moves that involve more of you distal trunk (between the shoulders and hips). If you are doing crunches try them with vertical leg so you will target more ab muscles, otherwise the may put your spine in a painful curved position. The following exercises effectively engage more of your core.
1. Planks – usually between :30 – :60 is a great indicator on seeing how strong your core is. Also for a more dynamic version, try lifting your hips up to the ceiling and squeezing at the top then back down to the original position (10-12 reps). You will definitely feel if if you incorporate the dynamic planks after holding the frontal plank 30 – 45 seconds. Also try planks with single leg lifts or single leg suspended off of the ground and you can do the same with single arm lifts or single arm lifts. When doing the 3 point planks, focus on engaging you core to avoid rotating your hips. For more advanced techniques, try theses same exercises from the push up position to add some extra shoulder stability.
2. Pallof Press – The goal of the exercise is to maintain a neutral spine in an athletic position while resisting a rotation stimulus. Start with a wider base to get the feel and narrow from there. The athlete presses the arms out straight creating a greater rotation force that the hips and trunk must resist. Personally I prefer to narrow the base rather than try to jack up the weight. I have noticed greater upper trap recruitment with higher weight which is a normal compensation. Be sure the neck and traps are relaxed and try to crush the handle or tighten the. Focusing on grip will reflexively fire the cuff and increase stability decreasing the need for the upper trap compensatory strategy.
3. Double KB Windmill – as with all kettlebell exercise, you support the weight for the
whole movement. To support additional weight your body naturally puts tension
onto your core muscles with your Abdominal wall taking the majority of the
load. The Double Kettlebell Windmill forces your Abs to support a massive
additional load through a full range of movement and in doing so does not only
increase your strength dramatically but it also increases your Hip flexibility.