Crunches. Just the term sends abdominals everywhere into spasms.
For decades, this often-intimidating exercise has been at the top of the workout routine for anyone who wants to tighten and tone their tummy. If you search for exercises to tone your stomach, chances are, you’ll find crunches.
But losing excess belly fat and working to strengthen your core doesn’t have to begin with crunches. In fact, we’ll let you in on a secret: even your trainer doesn’t do them.
There are many reasons trainers will steer you away from crunches. Here’s 4 reasons why crunches are not a go-to abdominal workout for trainers, and 4 replacement exercises you can try instead!
1. They can increase injury risks.
If crunches are done correctly, they’re pretty harmless. However, if you’re untrained in proper anatomical movements, you risk muscle pulls, slipped discs, and many other lower back pains. Additionally, these problems may not show up right away but build up over time.
2. They can promote poor posture.
When doing crunches, the natural inclination is to tuck your butt under. While this helps increase ab strength, this movement results in conditioning that can disrupt the natural curve of the spine. So, your strong abdominals could come at the cost of weak posture.
3. They hyperfocus on “surface” muscles.
Abdominals are just one set of muscles in your core that need attention. Most people will focus on attaining that six-pack look without paying much attention to the whole package of core muscles.
4. They can cause undue tension and neck pain.
Because crunches are often done as the main (or only) core-strengthening exercise, and the exercise doesn’t take into consideration its role in conjunction with the other major core muscles, there is an increased chance of putting unnecessary pressure (tension) on the spinal column, resulting in neck pain.
Don’t believe us? Ever see someone’s face when they’re doing a crunch? The taut neck and strained expression are key indicators of increased tension.
4 Better Exercises For Toning Your Stomach
Have no fear! There are a number of effective and less risky exercises that can help you build a solid core and increase your stability and balance, in fact, here’s four of them that you can use to replace crunches that are more effective, target all the core muscles, and bring quicker results:
- Standing bicycle crunches
Also known as standing criss-cross exercise, this movement has been shown to be 248% more effective than standard crunches. This exercise targets obliques and rotational muscles. It can help build core strength and improve balance.
This simple, yet challenging, exercise engages all of the major core muscle groups and the glutes. More, planks have been shown to increase core strength and abdominal definition while improving balance, posture, and flexibility!
3. Bird-Dog Crunch
This core exercise strengthens the lower back and abdominals while building your body’s balance and stability Simple yet effective, the bird-dog crunch targets the abdominal core muscles, hamstrings, glutes and shoulders.
Get A Toned Stomach Without The Pain
Core strength is vital to a healthy, active lifestyle, and when your exercises are putting that active lifestyle at risk of injury and long-lasting, restrictive pain, alternatives are a necessity.
At Matrix Age Management, we know the value of a full-body approach to a healthier, more active lifestyle that includes proven and effective fitness routines, sleep and stress management, proper nutrition, optimized hormones, and supplements when necessary.
And we can incorporate all five lifestyle modification elements into a personalized approach, tailored to your specific needs—so you can build a stronger you and not only age with grace, but with health and vitality.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you, contact our team of professionals and schedule a consultation today.