May 22, 2024


Enriching Health Natural

Fitness Myth – Why Crunches Won’t Give You Nice Abs

5 min read

I can’t tell you how many times people come up to me and ask, “what ab exercises should I do to get nice abs?” And every time I’m stumped because there are none. Doing a bunch of crunches (or any other ab exercise) won’t get you 2 centimeters close to a sexy midsection. You have a six-pack right now, that’s the natural shape of the muscles. However, chances are you can’t see because there’s too much fat between your skin and your abdominal muscles. If you want a nice tummy, get lean and crunches have nothing to do with getting lean.

Why Crunches Have Nothing To Do With Getting Lean

They fall into a category called “isolation exercises”, and when it comes to fat-loss, isolation exercises are pretty much worthless (they are better than watching TV, but that’s about it). Isolation exercises are exercises designed to target a single muscle, such as bicep curls, triceps extensions, calf raises, leg extensions, etc. of all varieties for each. The theme is that these exercises are trying to work one muscle or part of your body at a time. This is retarded for at least one reason that we’ll get into:

Little to no results:

If you want to burn fat (grow, or become a better athlete for that matter) you want to recruit as many muscles as possible at one time, because you want to consume as much energy as possible during your workout and create the largest Afterburn possible (the Afterburn is the post-workout metabolic boost that can last for up to 36 HOURS that only comes from a well-designed resistance training program, and/or interval training, not from aerobic training).

Example: Leg extension vs. Squat. In the leg extension, you sit on a machine that stabilizes your hips and back, and then straighten out your knee (just like in a seated ass-kicking contest). You hit just one muscle group – the muscles on the front of your thigh (quadriceps). That’s maybe 8 or 9{dc95c22c9cec96e4b887cb128e750bad45acd6bf2ff75ab29d9ade61e84bfb51} of the muscle-mass on your body.

In a squat, you hold a load on your back, shoulders, or in your hands and you squat – like sitting down in a chair without using your hands. In a squat you hit the muscles in your feet, front of your calfs, back of your calfs, inner & outer thigh (you can skip the inner/outer thigh machine now), front & back of thigh, butt, abs (way more than on a crunch), and all the way up and down your back. You’re hitting about 80{dc95c22c9cec96e4b887cb128e750bad45acd6bf2ff75ab29d9ade61e84bfb51} of the muscles in your body at once, or getting 1,000{dc95c22c9cec96e4b887cb128e750bad45acd6bf2ff75ab29d9ade61e84bfb51} more done in the same amount of time. Basically, you could do 10 isolation exercises to get the benefit of just doing squats. Better yet, you could do squats, push-ups, dead-lifts (which also do more to stimulate your core than a crunch ever will), and rows to hit your entire body and actually burn some fat, and get way more done in 30min. of multi-joint exercises than you could get done in 2hours of isolation exercises.

(Side note: Isolation exercises are also pretty darn worthless for muscle growth. If you are a man, you can get jacked in 3 days per week if you stick to dead-lifts, squats, chin-ups, push-presses, etc. in a well-designed program.)

Getting Lean:

I think that almost most of the articles I have written so far have dealt with getting lean (fat-loss), but I’ll re-cap:

#1. Burn More Calories Than You Take In:

This is the golden rule of fat-loss – the one that you cannot violate if you want to be making any sort of progress at all. Excess calories are mostly stored in your fat-cells. Your body will have no reason at all to access it’s “saving account” until it is in a calorie debt. This is where common sense plays an important role:

*When you go out to eat, you don’t need to devour the bread basket, you don’t need 3 drinks (or more than 1 for that matter), you probably do not need an appetizer (especially a deep fried one), and you almost certainly do not need dessert more than once a week unless you are interested in wearing that food in your belly, and/or hips and thighs.

*Do you drink OJ every day? Stop. Eat an actual orange instead. The orange actually has some nutritional value, like fiber, and will save you close to 180 calories per day over the standard glass of OJ. That one change could workout to 18lbs of fat lost over the course of a year! (OJ has as much sugar as soda does, no it’s not “ok” because its “natural” – whatever that means, sugar is one of the biggest culprits in making your fat cells grow).

This does not mean starve yourself, however. That will probably do more harm than good, and either cause your metabolism to crash and/or send you on the binge to end all binges – like the one that killed your last diet.

#2. Boost Your Metabolism & Hang On To Your Muscle

Nothing new here, lift weights and do intervals. If you’re interested in fat-loss, avoid wasting any of your time in the gym with aerobics – they are nearly worthless in the short term, and counterproductive over the long term. Aerobic training will stimulate your muscles to shrink, which will slow your metabolism long-term. Intervals and lifting 3 or 4 days per week (2.5 to 3.5hrs/week total) will burn tons of calories during the workout, and for the 24 to 36 HOURS after your workout.

#3. The Icing on The Cake:

If #1 and 2 are the cake, then #3 is the icing – the after though, the bonus, or the thing that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to do until you have taken care of your foundation (#1 and 2). The icing on the cake are exercises for your core (your core being the muscles in your mid-section, all of them). Doing some extra core work can be beneficial for a number of reasons, including giving you a little edge in having an even nicer mid-section than #1 and 2 would provide alone. P.S. eating a lot of cake would pretty much negate #1, but you knew that already.

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