Trying to tighten your tummy? Not sure whether to sit-up or crunch? The most effective ab exercise is actually a blend of a healthy diet and a cardio program that burns off fat.
Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
From 6 Second Abs to the AbMaster to Amazing Abs… everyone’s in pursuit of the illusive abdominal six-pack. But with so many products on the market, and so much hype, why is it that people are still having so much trouble whipping their abs into shape?
If you want to do it correctly, start off by saying “no!” to the pills, creams, and accessories that “guarantee” a killer set of abs; ignore products that promise maximum results with minimum effort. It just takes some simple motivation and effort to have a set of well-defined, toned abs; it’s easy if you know what you’re doing.
All right. First of all, in the search for a six-pack, it doesn’t matter how tight and toned the muscles in the torso are if there is a layer of fat obstructing them from view. Neither a crunch nor a sit-up will burn off flab; that’s the job of constant, strenuous cardiovascular exercise mixed with a healthy diet low in fat. Increasing your metabolism and burning off more calories than you consume will result in the body’s losing weight. Otherwise, you can crunch and sit-up yourself into insanity without ever seeing the results you hope for.
If you already have a proportionate amount of body fat, there are effective exercises out there for conditioning the abdominal region. The sit-up and the crunch, although they seem like the same exercise, actually work two different muscle groups in your abdominal region. For the best ab work-out, don’t pledge allegiance to either one, but use both in your quest for a toned tummy.
Sit-ups, the traditional ab exercise, stress the body’s sitting up motion. The psoas muscles, which run from your lower back to the front of your thighs, pull the thighs closer to the torso when sitting up. These muscles are the ones getting the work-out here, not your abdominals!
Crunches, on the other hand, directly exercise your abs. In order to do crunches the correct way, lie flat on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor about a foot from your butt. Your arms should be crossed across your chest, or in the case of accidental neck strain, supporting your neck by lightly cupping your ears. Be careful not to let your arms and shoulders perform any of the crunching motion; it’s your abdominal region we want to isolate.
Lift your shoulders and upper back up and towards your knees, making sure NOT to curve your spine. Your elbows, if they are cupping your ears, should remain out of your line of vision at all times; if you see an elbow out of the corner of your eye, you are pulling your arms around your head – a major no-no. Feel your abdominal muscles working to pull your sternum towards your pelvis. Hold for two counts and lower slowly. Keep your vision locked on the ceiling above you; this will help alleviate the urge to curl your body into the crunch instead of remaining straight and firm.
Start off with two sets of 15 repetitions, and gradually build up your crunching from there. Be aware that weak torso muscles will generally have a hard time lifting your body into the crunch position, but slow, steady commitment to exercise will get them there.
And remember, most importantly; even though you may churn out hundreds of crunches and sit-ups a day, it’s only through cardio and a lowered calorie intake that the body can burn off fat, and allow your toned and tightened tummy to truly show.