Gone are the days when doing a hundred crunches in a row were the way to washboard abs. Turns out that crunches can be pretty ineffective, especially if you have poor form.
“There is a huge misconception that the key to obtaining six-pack abs is by doing a million sit-ups and crunches. And while core exercises can help with the breakdown of muscle in the abdominal region, they cannot reduce fat,” says Rebecca Gahan, C.P.T., founder and owner of Kick@55 Fitness in Chicago.
When you’re increasing the number of crunches that you do, your form can get sloppy, which makes those crunches even less effective. “When people say they do 1000 crunches a day, I wish they would just do 10 perfectly,” says Astrid Swan, celebrity trainer in West Hollywood, L.A.
A better plan? Eat clean, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and activate the core with compound movements. “To really be able to see defined, chiseled abs, then you need to have a lower body fat percentage,” says Swan. She adds that a great example of a core workout that does the trick is the goblet squat, which involves squatting with heavier weights, like dumbbells or kettlebells.
You can also get that burn on the floor, too.“It is much more effective to complete a core exercise in plank position, utilizing multiple muscle groups. This will then force your deeper core muscles to contract from multiple regions, stabilize the body, and challenge the core muscles more effectively and efficiently then a series of crunches,” says Gahan. For example, elevate your feet using a TRX band or on an exercise ball, or complete a series of push-ups or pike and planks.