The belief that punishing abdominal crunches is the most effective way to achieve a flat stomach is not entirely true. While crunches are effective to a certain extent, they cannot deliver a flat stomach on their own. And when not executed correctly crunches can injure your neck and back.
Why Crunches Alone do not Deliver a Flat Stomach?
To get a flat stomach and display your toned abs, the fat surrounding your midsection has to be burned. And crunches burn negligible or very few calories. To be effective, crunches need to be supplemented with resistance training that builds muscles and burns fats. A low-fat-high-protein diet helps to burn more calories and supplements the crunches in attaining a flat stomach.
So Are Crunches totally Ineffective for Flat Stomach?
The answer is no. Due to their nature, crunches do work the abdominal muscles and strengthen and tone them. And strong and toned abs are an essential component of ‘fit to display’ flat stomach.
Abdominal Crunches that are Effective
- The Basic Crunch
- Lie flat on the floor, knees facing the ceiling, hands behind the head.
- Exhale and pull your upper body forward, lifting the shoulder blades off the floor. Keep your lower back and feet in the same position.
- Fall back again to the floor slowly. This completes one crunch.
As you come up, the six pack muscle, the ‘rectus abdominus’ gets crunched and will eventually get strengthened and toned.
- Twisting Crunch
- Starting position is same as for the basic crunch.
- Come up as you would in the basic crunch and when you are half way up, twist the upper body and aim to touch your right elbow to the left knee.
- Come back down. Repeat with the other side.
The twisting crunch tones the oblique muscles on the sides of the waist, commonly called love handles. You don’t want a flat tummy with flabby sides, do you?
It is important to twist the body from the sides. Just moving the arm will obviously not work the muscles.
- Reverse Crunch
It is exactly what it sounds like – a reverse of the basic crunch. While the basic crunch works the upper abdominals, the reverse crunch focuses on the lower abdominal muscles.
- Lie on your back, hands by the side, knees bent, feet off the ground.
- Bring your knees towards the chest, working from the hips and not moving only the legs.
- With the feet moving in, simultaneously, lift your pelvis off the ground. Keep your head and shoulders peeled on the floor. This is the ‘reverse crunch’ position. Hold it for sometime and come back to the starting position.
There are several other crunches that you can perform including the bicycle crunch, crunches with heel touches etc, which work the abdominal muscles. The crunches can be performed free style on the floor or on medicine ball or with weights to increase the effectiveness. So really with crunches for a flat stomach, the options are many.
Crunches alone may not guarantee a flat stomach. But when you perform the crunches in the right way and combine them with other flat stomach exercises and the right diet, they can definitely help you achieve a flat stomach.