Crunch Time

There are many exercises for developing your abs muscle. Crunches are probably one of the most common exercises done to tone up your middle. An effective way to tighten and strengthen your abdominal muscles is to do the traditional abdominal crunch exercises. They are very versatile and convenient because they can be performed basically anywhere whether it is lying flat on the floor, using a weight lifting bench, a Swiss ball or an abdominal exercise machine. It is important you work with your trainer to make sure you have the right balance of exercises to get the best workout, and to make sure you are doing it properly to avoid injury and get the best results.

The basic crunch is a vital part of any crunches workout. If done correctly, this exercise will help flatten and tone both your lower and upper abdominal muscles and you will be able to get hard rock abs. The key to getting the flat abs you want is to do the crunch correctly, making sure that you are really working those abdominals.

  1. Lie your back flat on the ground with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle, then place your hands behind your head or across your chest.
  2. Pull your belly button towards your spine, and flatten your lower back against the floor.
  3. Slowly contract your abs while bringing your shoulder blades just an inch or 2 above the ground.
  4. Exhale as you rise up. Your neck should be straight, chin up.
  5. Hold that position for a few seconds while breathing continuously.
  6. Slowly lower your back down to the floor but don’t fully relax.
  7. Repeat for 20 to 25 times with perfect form.
  8. For more variety, bring your knees and upper body towards the torso to perform a full body crunch.
  9. To make it more challenging, try the crunch while balancing on an exercise ball.

There are three main mistakes people make when trying to perform the crunch. The first is that they pull on their neck to get them up, rather than lift with the abdominals. In this instance, the best you can get is a sore neck instead of strong abs. Another big mistake people make is not breathing through the exercise. When performing the crunch, always exhale up and inhale down. Finally, many people attempt to just lift themselves straight up rather than perform the crunching motion. In a proper crunch the torso should be rolled up to the top of the movement, using your abdominals to do the lifting.

Other ab exercises to add to your workout routine include:

  • Planks – laying on your stomach raise the body up supporting on your feet and forearms. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, rest and repeat. Planks are an excellent core exercise and will strengthen your stomach muscles and your back.
  • V-sits – while laying on your back with your arms above your head, lift your torso up keeping your back straight. At the same time bring your legs up until your hands are almost touching your feet. Lower your legs and upper body back to the mat and repeat.
  • Knees to Elbows – hang from a chin up bar, keeping your stomach tight bring your legs up and lean your body back until your knees touch your elbows. Stay controlled while performing the exercise to prevent swinging.

There are many other great core exercises including moves and poses from Pilates and Yoga. Many machines in the gym can be used to strengthen your abdomen. To achieve that six pack abs or a flatter stomach, work with your trainer to work all the angles of the abdominal area. You must work different muscles with different exercises by using various resistance levels.

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