It's Crunch Time

It's Crunch Time

Toned abs don't just look great, they're also vital for good posture and avoiding lower back pain.

Mental Health Does Not Come With A Manual, It Comes With Friends & Family Support That Never Gives Up!
Join now

But there's a limit to how far the exercises known as crunches will go toward getting you those six-pack abs. These exercises create definition, but they won't get rid of belly fat, according to a report in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

That goal needs the one-two punch of exercise to firm muscle and diet to reduce fat. That being said, crunches belong in a core workout -- that's one targeting all the muscles in your torso.

When it comes to crunches, working smarter is more important than doing hundreds of them.

To intensify ab workouts:

  • Increase the number of reps per set.
  • Increase the number of sets.
  • Shorten resting time between sets.
  • Increase the angle of exercises.
  • Wear ankles weights.
  • Hold a weight plate against your chest.

Here are specific pointers to improve the effectiveness of the most popular exercises.

For the basic crunch, lie on your back, knees slightly bent, feet flat on the floor and hip distance apart. Breathe in, then exhale as you tighten your abs and lift your head and shoulders toward the ceiling. Do not curl up toward your knees. Hold briefly, then slowly return to the starting position, inhaling as you lower yourself to the floor. Start with 10 reps done in good form -- no jerking or rushing.

For the jack knife, lie flat with legs extended and together, and arms extended behind your head. Inhale, then exhale and bring your legs up 30 to 45 degrees from the floor as you raise your torso and swing arms parallel to your legs, hands reaching for your feet. Hold, then slowly return to start, inhaling as you lower yourself to the floor.

For your oblique muscles, lie on your right side, legs together, knees bent. Inhale, then exhale and, with your left hand behind your head, raise your left elbow toward your waist, feeling the crunch along your side. Hold, then slowly return to start, inhaling as you lower yourself to the floor. When you complete your set, switch sides.

The Internet's Most Trusted Source For Mental Health Information
Sign up

Unlike other muscle groups, abs can be worked on a daily basis, but resist overdoing it.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests some ab exercises to help you develop these and related muscles.


Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Related Content

Magnetic Stimulation Device Approved to Treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The Brainsway Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation System has been approved by...

Read more
Is a Haywire Body Clock Tied to Mood Disorders?
Is a Haywire Body Clock Tied to Mood Disorders?

There may be a genetic link between mood disorders and the body's internal clock...

Read more
More Opioid Users Getting Treatment Since Medicaid Expansion
More Opioid Users Getting Treatment Since Medicaid Expansion

The expansion of Medicaid that came along with the Affordable Care Act has made ...

Read more
FDA Approves Brain Stimulation Device for OCD
FDA Approves Brain Stimulation Device for OCD

A brain stimulation device to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has rece...

Read more
A Little 'Horseplay' Eases Veterans' Mind, Body & Soul
A Little 'Horseplay' Eases Veterans' Mind, Body & Soul

U.S. Navy veteran Lisa Conway was having trouble coping with mobility issues rel...

Read more
Research Links Long-Banned Insecticide DDT to Autism
Research Links Long-Banned Insecticide DDT to Autism

High levels of exposure to the insecticide DDT in women seems to more than doubl...

Read more