Today’s topic is a great one, because I often get asked about the best ab exercise, along with what I think about crunches. So the Fitpro team has put together an interesting read. Although the basic crunch is still popular, by now it’s pretty well known that this out-dated exercise is not the most effective way to flatten and strengthen your abs. It simply doesn’t activate your core muscles to the extent that other exercises do, when done incorrectly it can hurt your back, and the small motion doesn’t do much by way of calorie burning.
So why are YOU still doing crunches?
What the basic ab crunch does have going for it is its no-equipment, on-the-go nature. You could plop down onto the ground in a park, a hotel room, at the beach or at the gym to crank out a round of crunches wherever you happen to be. Not the most effective, but, until now, the most convenient.
It’s time to upgrade your default, basic crunch to a more modern, results-driven exercise. Below I have a series of no equipment ab exercise to get you one step closer to those washboard abs that you’ve been dreaming about.
Better Than Crunches #1: The Plank
To perform a plank, place your forearms on the ground with your elbows aligned below your shoulders, and your arms parallel to your body shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your core and pay attention to keeping your back flat. Focus on pulling your belly button in as you hold the position. Try and extend the amount of time that you can hold it for each time you perform the exercise.
Better Than Crunches #2: Scissor Kick
To perform a scissor kick, lie with your back into the floor and your arms extended to the sides with your palms facing down. With a slight bend in your knees, lift your legs so that your heels are 6 inches off the ground. Lift your left leg up to about a 45-degree angle while your right leg is still lowered until your heel is about 2-3 inches from the ground. Switch movements by raising your right leg while lowering your left leg. Squeeze your midsection and focus on your breathing as you perform 60-90 seconds of the exercise at a SLOW tempo. Get ready for the burn!
Better Than Crunches #3: V-Ups
To perform a v-up, lie down on your back on the floor and extend your arms behind your head. The back of your hands should lightly touch the floor while your palms face the ceiling. Keep your feet close together and point your toes toward the ceiling. Lift your legs up, keeping them straight at the same time that you raise your upper body off the floor and reach for your toes. Exhale and squeeze your abdominal muscles as you reach for your toes before slowly lowering yourself back down to the starting position. Repeat a series of 12-20 repetitions.
Better Than Crunches #4: Reverse Crunch
To perform a reverse crunch, lie on the floor with your feet flat on the floor and hands behind your head. Press your lower back into the floor and pull in your belly button as you lift your feet off of the floor. Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and pull them all the way into your chest so that your tailbone raises off of the ground, and at the same time lift your shoulder blades off of the floor. Focus on squeezing your abs to perform the movement. Slowly lower your shoulders, hips and legs to the starting position, keeping your feet just above the floor. Repeat the movement for 12-20 repetitions while squeezing your abs and focusing on your breathing. Tommy Tip: look straight up, and DO NOT tuck your chin!
Better Than Crunches #5: Russian Twist
To perform a Russian twist, lie on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle while raising your upper body off of the ground. Exhale while you twist your torso to the right side until your arms are parallel with the floor. Pull your belly button in and squeeze, then slowly move back to the starting position. Repeat on the left side and continue to repeat both sides for 60-90 seconds.
There you have it, 5 modern, results-driven abdominal exercises that you can perform anywhere, anytime! Aim to work your abs at least twice a week for the best results. Perform the exercises throughout your workout, to avoid leaving them to the end when your core is already tired.
It’s worth noting that while strengthening your abdominal muscles is a great way to tighten your waist, none of the amazing muscle tone will show if your body fat is above 20 percent.
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