The first thing everyone thinks of about working the ab area is – gonna get a six pack! However, it is more important to work the abs to – get a strong core!
Strong core muscles lead to better balance and stability in our everyday activities as well as in sports or in the gym. Weak core muscles can lead to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries. Regardless of age or fitness level, anyone can begin core training at any time in their life and reap the benefits.
One of the first exercises everyone learns in gym class is ab crunches. Crunches are relatively easy to do compared to other similar exercises, and they require no equipment; but you can make them more challenging by adding resistance or performing them on a ball.
The abdominal crunch is considered a “core strengthening” exercise, because it strengthens the base, or core, sets of abdominal and back muscles that promote good posture and minimize the risk of injury, says Matthew McDonald, author of “Your Body: The Missing Manual.” Crunch exercises are safer than sit-ups for your back, and they are recommended for beginners who are just starting an abdominal exercise regimen.
Make sure you use proper form while doing crunches and sit-ups. These exercises engage muscles called hip flexors, which run from your thighs to the front of your lumbar spine in your lower back. Improper form can overwork and tighten the hip flexors and cause lower-back pain.
One of the first exercises everyone learns in gym class is ab crunches. Crunches are relatively easy to do compared to other similar exercises, and they require no equipment, but you can make them more challenging by adding resistance or performing them on a ball.
Basic Crunch: Click here for a demonstration of the proper form for a basic crunch.
Reverse Crunch: Focus on rectus abdominis. You will feel this one in the lower abs.
Double Crunch: Works your upper and lower ab muscles because you are lifting both the upper and lower portion of your body.
Oblique Crunch: Works the rectus abdominis, the external and internal obliques – helps to get rid of those love handles.
Frog Crunch: Works rectus abdominis. See a visual description here.