Just say NO to crunches

Crunches aka crunch time. I’ve never liked them. All through jr high I loathed doing the 50+ crunches that we were assigned to do during our physical fitness tests. I probably didn’t like them because I wasn’t very good at them!

Now, years later, I still don’t like them. I can easily do 150+ but that has nothing to do with it – I just don’t support the use of crunches for ab strengthening. If you can do them correctly (and that’s a HUGE if) then I don’t mind them. The problem, though, is that majority of people don’t know how to do them the right way.

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{image courtesy of thankyourbody.com}

My friend Robin wrote a post with 10 reasons to not do crunches. I love all of them, and you should TOTALLY read through them here: http://thankyourbody.com/do-not-do-crunches/

Here are 5 of them that I really agree with:

1) They wreak havoc on your spine – many instructors say to flatten your spine against the ground while doing crunches. Understandable, because it can protect you from injury but it can also train the back to stay that way. Your spine has curves for a reason and the absolute best core strengthening takes those curves into account and doesn’t compromise their natural shape.

2) Crunches focus on surface muscles instead of deep core muscles – because of this, your core will in actuality be less strong and stable than if you were to strengthen and develop your deep inner core muscles. It’s true, these are your “six pack” abs. If you want real strength to totally support your body in any form of motion, you’ve gotta go deeper.

3) They create poor posture – along with adding tension and pain in the neck, crunches reinforce the bad habits of tucking your butt under and holding in their abs, leading to slouching or sever kyphosis (hunchback). Crunches can all bring tension to your hips, leading to restriction in movement and possibly leading to hip/lower back injuries.

4) They’re boring – let’s face it, we’ve all thought that. And it’s because it’s true! The repetitiveness of crunches can be mundane, making it easy to not have your mind engaged in the exercise. Good core strengthening workouts keep your mind actively involved in what your body is doing which also aids in liking what you’re doing. And enjoying what you’re doing makes a HUGE difference.

5) Unless you do them right, they can be dangerous – like I said before, since the majority of people I’ve taught/see do them wrong. Though you can learn how to do them the correct way, there are so many other core strengthening workouts that are just as good if not better for you!

Some of my favorite ab strengthening exercises to teach my classes revolve around planks.

Mountain climbers, side planks, up-downs…all are great ways to build up that core strength.  Check out some of my favs here: https://onefoot2foot.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/plank-it-out/

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