500 Crunches?

Yesterday I had a conversation with a woman who told me she does 500 crunches a day. The first thing that came to my mind was why. Is the goal solely to complete 500 reps, or is it to see abdominal definition or is the goal really to strengthen her core? The second thing that came to my mind was if she has to do 500 to feel it, she isn’t doing them right.

To properly perform abdominal crunches don’t just go through the motions. As you come up contract the abdominals hold for a second in the top position and slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Needless to say she wasn’t doing this. After asking more questions I found out this woman plays tennis three times a week and works out with a trainer twice a week to stay in shape. Her trainer should have told her she doesn’t need to do her daily 500 crunches, she needs more core strength.

If you’re truly going to work your core, then stop trying to isolate your abs. To strengthen the muscles of your core use more resistance and do the exercises the right way and move the way the body moves. Your lower back and hips are included in the core as well. To strengthen her core and improve her tennis game, I had her try full sit ups, which she could not do without complaining (due to weak hip flexors and low back), plank holds, resistance band side rotations as well as hip bridges to strengthen her glutes, hamstrings and low back. These are just a few simple exercises that can be done in minimal time and yield maximum results.

Does your workout incorporate these four movements?

  1. Hip flexion – examples include: sit ups, reverse crunches, and leg lifts
  2. Hip extension – examples include: hip bridges, reverse hypers, and good mornings
  3. Trunk rotation – example include: side band rotations, Russian twists, and cable wood chops
  4. Isometric core stabilization – examples include: plank holds, and side plank holds

If your goal is to increase your core strength and improve your athletic performance be sure to include the four movements into your workouts. In addition, if you want to see your abs you also need to make fat burning resistance training, high intensity interval training, and proper diet high priorities.

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