Tonight at the gym, I noticed two young women crunching and crunching and crunching… bobbing their heads up and down off a mat for over 10 minutes at least. This happens all the time, but I felt particularly compelled to liberate these two girls from their useless “ab routine”. And so, I stopped my squat set early to save the girls a lot of time, frustration, and neck/back pain later in life…
“Do you girls know that crunches don’t work?”
Ok, so maybe that was a little direct, but I don’t like wasting time at the gym. Seeing the obvious confusion on their faces, I continued…
“Yeah… I actually haven’t done a single crunch in over 4 years (true story)!!”
Now I’d gotten their attention.
If I haven’t gotten yours yet, let me ask you a few questions.
Just like these girls, who spend maybe 20-30 minutes every day doing crunches of some sort (that’s 3 hours or more every week!) how many hours of your life have you wasted doing hundreds upon hundreds of crunches?
Or rather, how many crunches have you done every day, without ever seeing those rock-solid abs that you want?
And, what if I told you that you could get 6-pack abs without ever doing a single crunch ever again??!
Most women don’t believe me when I first tell them that their beloved crunches routine “isn’t doing sh*t”, but really the proof is in the mirror.
If you’ve been doing hundreds and hundreds of crunches for any period of time and still don’t have a 6-pack that you’re proud of, then I’d say that’s a pretty lousy deal.
So, hopefully we have established that crunches don’t work. (If not, start doing 500 crunches per day every day for 3 months, and see for yourself.)
Now, I am going to tell you why crunches suck, WHY they don’t work, and even better – what exercises DO work to get you those rock solid abs that you want!
1. The single most important factor in seeing your abdominal muscles is low body fat. If you want those really, really great abs, you’re body fat needs to be at about 10% or lower… and I promise you’re not going to decrease your body fat through crunches. Crunches burn little to no calories (especially if you’ve been doing them a while… your body adapts, remember!?) and actually work very few muscles — mostly neck and back, (and arms, if you put your hands behind your head).
2. Crunches can hurt your back. The actual “crunched up” part of the crunch exercise puts an extremely awkward and unhealthy strain on the weakest part of your back. Basically, the part of your back that bends and strains while doing sit-ups and crunches is actually the same part with the most potential for nerve damage. EEK! Even if crunches DID work your abs (they don’t), the back damage you could someday suffer definitely wouldn’t be worth it.
3. You cannot “spot treat” your abs. Despite what you’ve been led to believe, your body doesn’t burn fat in isolation. Think about it for a minute: if people could “spot treat” their bodies, then you would see guys walking around with ripped abs and flabby arms… or women with fat butts but super-toned thighs! It just doesn’t happen that way naturally. So, what does this mean? Well, in other words, doing abdominal exercises will not burn lots of fat from your abdominals… it will burn a little bit of fat everywhere. So, to burn fat from your abs you’re actually much better off doing intense exercises that trigger your body to burn a TON of fat – and strength exercises that involve lots of different muscle groups (like squats and dead lifts) are the best way to do this!
4. Multi-muscle strength exercises will get you 6-pack abs fast. Think about the bench press… or even the push-up. Although these are not normally considered great “ab exercises”, most people don’t realize that these exercises force you to work many muscle groups all at once… and hence are truly the BEST “ab exercises”. Don’t understand what I mean? Drop right now and do a “man’s” pushup. If you can’t, chances are your abs (not your arms) aren’t strong enough. That’s because exercises like the bench press and pushup actually force you to stabilize your core muscles while your arms work to push weight. If your abs are too weak, you won’t be able to maintain the proper pushup position (hence the “female version”).
5. About 10 percent of good abs is exercise. The rest is all nutrition. Because having great abs is mostly about having a low body fat percentage, if you want to burn your fat mass you have to eat right. Again, this does not entail starving yourself. Actually, quite the opposite! You need to feed your body with a lot of nutritious, simple, whole foods frequently in order to keep your fat-burning muscles fueled and your metabolism on fire. To see what I mean, check out my other article on the 11 nutrition rules you MUST follow to have great abs.
I hope you have found this information valuable, and that I have saved you a lot of pain, time, and frustration at the gym! Skip those stupid crunches, and go do some squats! See how to incorporate squats and other fat-burning weightlifting exercises into a workout plan made just for you by getting a hold of my free workout and nutrition guide, or try my FULL PROGRAM! It’s full of all the exercises and nutrition information you need to finally start seeing toned abs!
Then send me an email to let me know how much you like your new workout, and your new rock solid abs. :)