How To Perform Crunches Correctly
...so you can get the best results from your ab workouts!
It is important to learn how to perform crunches correctly, especially if you're serious about getting 'washboard abs' or at least a great-looking mid-section that you can be proud of.
However, it is important to keep in mind that even the best ab exercises will not directly burn the fat that overlies your stomach. You must be willing to make changes to your nutritional habits, perform a regular exercise routine and perhaps even use some beneficial supplements.
Then, by having developed your abdominal muscles through your ab workouts you will be able to achieve the highly desirable flat stomach or chiseled abs.
There are 4 muscles that make up the abdominal muscles group:
All of these muscles are activated when performing the crunch exercise, however, rectus abdominis is activated the most.
There are 4 points to keep in mind when learning how to do crunches:
Hand PositionWhen performing most abdominal exercises place your hands at the side of your head above your ears or place your fingers behind your head. Having your fingers behind your head is okay as long as they are there to simply support the weight of your head, not to assist with the lift.
During a set of ab exercises it is possible that your neck muscles may get tired so having your hands behind your head will prevent this. However, if you choose to have your hands behind your head when performing crunches for abs, do not allow your arms to assist with the lift because it may put stress on your cervical vertebrae.
Head PositionYour head position is also important when learning how to do ab exercises. You need to keep a gap between your chin and your chest at all times.
This will help to keep your vertebrae in the correct alignment whilst performing the movement and will avoid any stress being placed on the vertebrae, which may occur if the cervical vertebrae is in a flexed position, i.e. when the chin is close to the chest.
MovementThe function or action of rectus abdominis is to flex the spine. This means the two attachment points for the muscle group come closer together.
If you are lying on the floor (with knees bent and feet flat on the floor) and performing crunches or you are instructing someone else in how to do abdominal exercises correctly, you want to slow lift your shoulders off the floor and bring them towards your thighs. At the same time focus on pushing your lower back into the floor in order to emphasise the flexion of the spine.
BreathingAs you perform the movement breathe out as the abdominal muscles contract. Then breathe in as you lower back down to the starting position.
If you are learning how to do sit ups in your ab workouts then you simply continue the movement of lifting the shoulders off the floor by bringing your middle and lower back off the floor as well. This variation puts a greater emphasis on the tranversus abdominis because is requires more stabilisation of the spine in order to hold your torso in space.
One of the very best ab exercises is the swiss ball crunch. This involves lying on a swiss ball instead of the floor and this involves much more stabilisation of the body when performing the movement, which means more muscle fibres in a whole range of muscles will come into play.
The other big advantage of performing the swiss ball crunch is that you are able to stretch the abs in the bottom position of the movement. This means you can exercise through a longer range of motion as well as get a 'stretch against resistance', which invokes greater muscle fibre stimulation.
A final point to remember is that learning how to perform ab exercises correctly in order to develop your abdominal muscles is only one very small part of what you need to do in order to get great-looking abs. Nutrition, aerobic exercise, resistance exercise and supplementation all play their part as well.
If you are interested in discovering more ways to help you lose belly fat and achieve an impressive mid-section, then get a copy of my e-book, Look Good, Feel Great!
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