Why Crunches Don't Work

The Exercise.com team is pretty fit, but all of us have problem areas we just can't seem to tame. Even the most dedicated among us finds ourselves up against a goal we can't achieve.

One of the members of the team is very close to a "six pack"—that pinnacle of low body fat, good genetics and hard work that so few can achieve. Ab crunches often seem to be the simplest and easiest workout to get those chiseled abs, but is it the most effective?

Why are Abs so Hard to Work?

Abdominal Muscles are tricky. Genetics plays a huge role in whether or not you will ever be able to have a six pack. In fact, most women just don't have the ability to get there.

The ab muscles are some of the finest muscles in our body. This means we can work them everyday without risking muscle strain but that they tend to deteriorate a lot quicker than larger muscles like our legs or arms.

What's Wrong With Crunches?

Because the ab muscles are so fine proper form will result in long lean muscle—improper form can actually build them to be "puffed out." Many people do crunches wrong and end up actually developing a bigger belly.

Crunches require concentration and muscle engagement. People often cheat using more eager muscle groups like the hip flexors or back—muscles that like to take over and do the work when you're trying to work your abs.

Crunch Fixes

Maintain Proper Crunch Form

Draw your belly button towards your spine. You're not reaching up towards your legs—you're driving your abs down into the ground. That downward movement is causing your shoulders to lift.

Don't go up too high. Overreaching causes your hip flexors to kick in. The movement should be very small, the lift should occur just to the bottom of your shoulder blades.

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