Turns out Toned Abs are easy AND free

A recent study was undertaken in by fitness professionals to find out if machines, gadgets, and trendy ab exercises all garnered equal results on toning the abs.  The results proved that the good ‘ol crunch, if performed CORRECTLY was the best way (and the cheapest and easiest) to tone your midsection.  Here are several graphs which will paraphrase the test findings, and their summation:


Figure 1.  Comparison of upper rectus abdominis (URA) activation for the various exercises compared to the traditional crunch.


Figure 2.  Comparison of lower rectus abdominis (LRA) activation for the various exercises compared to the traditional crunch.


Figure 3.  Comparison of upper rectus abdominis (URA) activation for the various exercises compared to the traditional crunch.


“THE BOTTOM LINE:  ‘We spent a considerable amount of money on abdominal exercise equipment to basically show that you can effectively train the abs at home for free,’ notes Stenger. ‘Obviously, laying on the ground doing the traditional crunch is not appropriate for everybody, especially people with low-back pain, but for the average person who wants to work his or her abdominal muscles to get stronger, have less back pain, and get better health benefits, all you need to do is get a comfortable spot on the floor, lay down and do some crunches. It doesn’t cost anything to work out. Everything else is kind of a waste of money from this standpoint.’

That said, Porcari notes that this study’s findings exhibited greater activation from the traditional crunch than some other similar studies. The lesson from that: It’s all about form. Do your crunches correctly and deliberately and you’ll get the most out of your workout. ‘When you look across the different exercises, none were greater than the traditional crunch. This is interesting because other studies (including other studies we’ve done), showed a difference,’ he says. ‘I think a part of it is, when we looked at the EMG for the traditional crunch, we had people do the traditional crunch very deliberately and correctly, and I think we had fairly high activation from the abs because of that.’

‘It’s important, however, to keep in mind that there is no single abdominal exercise that challenges all the abdominal muscles in the most effective way,’ explains Dr. Cedric X. Bryant, ACE’s Chief Science Officer, ‘and the best way to work the abs is with different types of exercises. For example, the plank exercise effectively engages the transverse abdominis, which plays an important role in spinal stabilization.'”

So my advice — CRUNCH away.  But please stop performing them  lightening fast, barely getting your shoulder blades off the floor.  You know who you are, I see you at the gym daily.  Rapid fire half-way crunches will NOT do the trick.  Nor will crunches on the balance ball where you come up so high you’re sitting straight up facing the mirror.  If you need help with learning the proper form, please contact me.




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