Crunches are a good abdominal exercise, but they can’t magically melt off stomach fat—spot reduction is the #1 ab exercise myth. With that said let’s talk a little more about the pros and cons of stomach crunches.
Pros of Ab Crunches
Pro #1 You can do crunches just about anywhere and you don’t need any special equipment. This is obviously a big benefit. You don’t have to join a gym or buy fancy ab machines. All you have to do is clear a space on the floor and get to work.
If you watch television here’s a tip for adding exercise to your day: do a few sets while you’re watching your favorite show or at least do some crunches during the commercials.
Pro #2 They strengthen your stomach muscles without putting much pressure on the lower back. If you compare crunches to full sit ups, crunches put much less stress on the lower back than full sit ups. If you have had problems with your lower back, crunches may be a better choice than full sit ups.
Cons of Ab Crunches
Con #1 You only use a small and limited range of motion. When your spine moves, your stomach muscles work. Lying on the floor, limits the amount that your spine can move, and this also limits how much your core muscles can work. A simple remedy for this con is to do crunches on an exercise ball.
Con #2 If you only use your body weight, your strength will plateau. If you keep doing crunches for weeks and months at a time, you’ll probably build up to 50 or 100 repetitions at a time.
Doing lots of reps is good for building endurance, but if you want to get stronger you must constantly increase the resistance. Generally, strength gains are best achieved with sets of less than 12 repetitions, but you could go as high as 25 on some exercises.
You can add resistance to your crunches with dumbbells or medicine balls so that your strength does not plateau.
Con #3 They can’t magically get rid of stomach fat. This is more of a fact about all stomach exercises rather than a con against crunches. Spot Reduction is the biggest myth in fitness. Unfortunately, you cannot work a spot and get rid of fat at that spot through targeted exercises.
If you want to lose stomach fat, you must follow a comprehensive program that includes ab exercises, aerobic exercise, weight training, and a sound nutrition plan.
Con #4 If your back is stiff, you will put excess pressure on your neck. If your lower back and upper back are stiff, you won’t be able to crunch and only your neck will move, leading to pain in the neck.
In order for the crunch to be effective, your spine must move. If your spine is stiff and does not move, then your ab muscles will not work as hard and your range of motion during crunches will be below normal.
You can increase the effectiveness of crunches by doing flexibility exercises for your lower back. This can increase how well your spine moves and improve your range of motion.
Read More on tips and Tricks for a Six Pack here…