Flaunting a six-pack torso is the epitome of human aesthetics for many. More than often we see people working hard to train the coveted muscle with minimum results. Unlike popular belief, the reverse crunches and forward crunches do not target the upper and lower abs. Since a muscle works on the “all or none principle” i.e a muscle fibre will contract in totality and not in parts, the Rectus Abdominis muscles being vertically straight fibers running across the torso it becomes impossible to train only the lower abs or the upper.
Studies suggest that the path to a flatter stomach has just as much to do with cardio and diet as it does with working that midsection. Obviously, crunches alone won’t get rid of the layer of tummy fat and magically replace it with rock-hard muscle but other core workouts may help you achieve your goal.
For those who are new to this journey, the “spot reduction” technique will not help you get rid of belly fat. Targetting a specific area of body fat does not work because fat is broken down and transported to the bloodstream. This will then be used as energy to fuel your workouts and can originate from anywhere in the body. This could be the reason why you are not seeing any visible results despite doing hundreds of crunches.
For those who have already embarked on the path to get-six-pack abs and are looking to strengthen your abdominal muscles, crunches are just one of the few exercises you should be doing. For a truly strong core, apart from the ab muscles, you will also have to work your side, back, gluteal and psoas. Here are 5- variations that you need to add to your core workout session:
Jack Knife Crunches
Lie down on your back with your hands stretched behind your head and your legs extended in front. Make sure your knees are not bent. Now in one smooth motion, lift your hands toward your legs and lift your legs toward your chest. In this position, your body will form a V-shaped profile. For beginners, it would be easier to bend the legs at the knee toward their chest, but you can leave them extended out if needed too.
What it does: This crunch targets the muscles that cross the middle of your stomach, or those six-packs, but most importantly, the obliques on the sides of your abdominals, as well as your inner thigh muscles. Your arms are also getting a solid workout if done right.
Start from a push-up position by keeping your forearms on the ground and elbows in line with your shoulders. Hold this for a moment; now turn to one side, with your elbows still directly below the shoulders. Lift the hip so your body stays in a straight line. You can also extend the opposite arm towards the ceiling. Hold and then repeat the same with the other side. Do about 8-10 reps at the beginning.
What it does: The side plank strengthens the arms, abdomen and legs, improves your send of balance and tones your cores with a focus on your obliques.
Lower Body Russian Twist
It’s very simple and you don’t need any kind of weights to perform this drill. Begin by lying on your back and keeping your legs parallel to the floor and your knees bent at a right angle. Now lower your legs to the left while maintaining ground contact with your shoulders. Do not let your knees buckle or your torso come off the floor. Come back to the starting position after a few seconds, and repeat the motion on the right. Do 10-12 repetitions to start with.
The Classic Plank
For this classic move, all you need to do is lie flat on the ground facing downwards. Put your arms under your shoulders and use your hands to slowly rise. Balance your body on your toes and keep your back straight. Hold for fifteen seconds, then lower yourself back down. Perform four sets of ten to fifteen movements each to achieve durable and notable results.
What it does: Because it engages all your core muscles, planking is one of the best exercises for tummy tightening. It also helps build abdominal endurance, which will help you withstand more difficult workouts in the future.
Supine Bicycle Crunches
Lie flat on your back and cross your arms over your head like you would for normal crunches. Now, bring your right knee and left elbow together until they touch, straightening out your left leg as you do so. Keep your left leg elevated off the floor at an angle above hip height. Continue working both legs like on a bicycle pedal with alternate elbows and shoulders. Do about 10-15 repetitions.
What it does: This routine strengthens the ab muscles and controls the rotation of the trunk.