Ok so I’m gonna settle the argument once and for all. Crunches/Sit-ups aren’t worth a damn. They do absolutely nothing for you, well apart from the possibility of causing lower back and spinal injuries. Yup there ya go! I said it. This may come as a shock to you but it’s true. If you’re the type of person that crunches for hell or high water I’m guessing you also the person that is still looking for the almighty flatter stomach or six pack abs? Am I correct? I’m confident I am. Now I’m not saying this to hurt your feelings it’s just I see countless amounts of people crunching their way to nowhere gyms, fitness centres and training studios. Honestly – I’ve had enough.
“But all those machines and equipment on the television and in the ads say you should do crunches and situps til the cows come home” – you might be thinking this right? That’s what they want you to think, you buy their gimmicky equipment e.g. Crunchmaster 1.0 (just made that name up – although there’s probably something out there called that) – try it out, do the crunches – feel the “burn” but get no results right? What happens – that same company releases Crunchmaster 2.0 (newer and improved – obviously:)) which you buy but end up with the same result. No closer to a flatter stomach and out of pocket.
You’ve been brainwashed by all the nonsensical equipment and fallacies out there saying you have to do 100, 200 or even a 1,000 situps/crunches a day to get a flatter stomach or six pack abs – pure baloney!! Show me someone who can do a thousand sit ups and I’ll show you a fool. Harsh? Perhaps. True? Very much so.
Now there’s a number of reason you shouldn’t be crunching but here are the top ones:
You cannot spot reduce – this means you can’t focus on one area of your body and expect the desired result just on that area. If you have excess body fat around your midsection just focussing on your midsection will not get rid of your belly fat. You need to train your body as a whole.
Crunches burn minimal amount of calories and therefore do nothing for burning fat around your midsection. You can crunch all day long but if you do not burn off the excess belly fat – you’ll never see your desired results.
Now this isn’t just my opinion by any means – its fact. Here’s some science for ya. Bear with me – I’ll limit the mumbo jumbo. When you “crunch” you are putting an unhealthy strain on the weakest part of your back. This part of your back which is the part you bend continuously while doing crunches and sit-ups has the most nerves – which in turn has the highest potential for nerve damage. Stuart McGill who is a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo commented on this fact saying:
“There are only so many bends or a ‘fatigue life’,” in your spinal disks. Inside each disk is a mucus-like nucleus and if you keep flexing your spine and bending the disk over and over again, that nucleus slowly breaches the layers and causes a disk bulge, or a disk herniation.”
“When people are doing curl up over gym balls and sit-ups, and this kind of thing, they are replicating a very potent injury mechanism on their back. Every time they bend it they are one repetition closer to damaging the disk.”
Sounds nice right? Wrong! Please, please, please promise me no more crunches – you’re doing yourself more harm than good. Great, that settles that. So what can you do for a firmer, flatter stomach? Glad you asked.
First and foremost you should look to have your nutrition dialed in as you cannot out train a bad diet.
You want to train your complete core not just your abs. You should incorporate movements that target all areas of your core from your oblique’s (internal and external), rectus and transverse abdominals as well as the muscles of your lower back.
Some of my favourite core exercises are the plank and it’s variations from front plank, side plank, resisted planks and plank to pushup movements. Also we are meant to function in the upright position so I love using resistance bands and a dowel and focusing on upright exercises incorporating rotational movements – changing up my base of support and shifting my centre of gravity for progression.
Also finishing up your workouts with intense interval training, burst training exercises or finishers is a great way of torching fat and burning up those calories.
So there you go – no more crunches, you can throw out your crunch master 2.0 or whatever else you have and focus on training the right way. If you have any questions on this or would like to know more about these exercises drop me a comment or hit me with a private mail via the contact page.