Working your core the right way

August 17, 2017

We see it all the time at the gym. People doing endless sets of sit-ups and crunches in the quest for six-pack abs. First of all, let’s get this out of the way: It’s impossible to reduce fat from a specific section of your body by only working out that region, a misnomer known as “spot reducing.” You are better off doing full-body exercises to reduce overall body fat composition and watching what you eat. As they say, “Abs are made in the kitchen.”

We have our medical reasons for not liking crunches and sit-ups. All that forward bending at the waist promotes too much forward flexion, which is bad for your back and posture. We spend all day hunched over our desks and craning our necks to read our smartphones, why add additional methods to promote a C-shaped posture? Please stop doing crunches!

What should you do instead of sit-ups and crunches?

  • Plank: This is one of our favorite exercises because anyone can do it. It promotes correct posture, and forces your muscles to stabilize your spine. Planks work the rectus and transverse abdomens (front and side ab muscles), building strength.
    • Assume the pushup position.
    • Pull the navel towards the spine.
    • Hold for ten seconds or longer if you need more of a challenge.
    • Fully release and relax onto the floor.
    • Repeat twelve times.
  • Standing twist: This exercise works the oblique muscles (the sides of the stomach). Hold an exercise ball, light dumbbell, kettlebell, or anything else that has a little bit of weight.
    • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
    • Extend your arms straight in front of you holding the object at chest level.
    • Twist your upper abdomen to one side, keeping your hips pointed forward.
    • Hold for ten seconds and then twist to other side.
    • Aim for twelve reps (both sides equals one rep.)
  • Double leg raise: This exercise is very effective and works the rectus abdominis (the front abdominal muscles).
    • Lie on your back.
    • Engage your abdominals and lift both legs slowly off the ground until they are approximately at a 45-degree angle.
    • Slowly lower your legs to the ground.
    • Repeat for twelve reps.

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