Rock Hard Abs 101

Do Crunches Really Work?

By PEERtrainer Health and Fitness Team
Well defined abs, "six pack" abs, are among the top of the most wanted body part  of the fitness set.  Crunches have long been credited with giving a rock hard midsection and being fit around the middle is a worthwhile goal for more than just vanity reasons.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that people who carry the majority of their fat in their midsections are more prone to a host of health problems, including heart disease or heart attacks, than people with a more even distribution of body fat.

So will 150 crunches a day really give you a super flat stomach? The answer is, yes and no. Crunches are a great workout, but they do not target all of the abdominal muscles, and they don't  address the problem of excess fat.   A thousand crunches a day will not produce visible results if a person is extremely overweight.   The crunches must be combined with cardiovascular exercise that is intense enough to burn fat.

However, if you're already at your ideal weight and simply want to tone your abs, crunches will help. The abdominals are a group of muscles that work together, and for an exercise routine to be the most effective, it must target all of these muscles. Regular crunches work the muscles in one direction. They target the lower abdominal muscles only, ignoring the obliques and the upper abs. You have to add additional core targeting to include all of these muscles.

One way is to modify your crunch routine to include doing ‘twisting crunches’ and ‘Olympic sit ups’, types of crunches that work all of the ab muscles in different ways. Be sure to check for proper form to avoid injury.  Two other workouts that build core muscle strengthening are Pilates and yoga. Pilates exercises are done on a mat, on the floor or on special Pilates equipment. These workouts use your body weight as resistance to strengthen the body, with emphasis on the ‘core muscles’ of the back and stomach.  Yoga can also help you develop a toned midsection through working your core, with the added benefit of better posture- which can make you appear taller and thinner.

Many people make the mistake of simply doing basic crunches over and over again and expect to have a perfectly fit midsection after a few months of this routine.  Abdominals become fit by including the entire core in your fitness routine, along wiht a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, as well as cardiovascular training for fat burning.
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