There’s one sure way to strengthen, tone and sculpt that ornery midsection and that is by performing crunches, pure and simple. Forget traditional sit-ups – they’re tough on your neck, lower back, and they hardly isolate the rectus abdominus and obliques, which make up your so called “six-pack”. Remember also that a trim and fit midsection will eliminate lower back pain issues.
Crunches don’t require as much motion as sit ups, but they’re tougher. Performed properly, a crunch requires total contraction of the abdominals and obliques and there’s no relaxation point during each repetition. Doing crunches regularly will streamline your midsection faster than any other exercise or crazy ab contraption sold online or on TV. Here are some standing and lying crunches. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps of each crunch. I suggest working abdominals like any other muscle group- 2 to 3 times per week, intensely for 10 to 15 minutes per session. Go slowly and feel the burn!
Standing Crunches: Stand with hands behind head and feet shoulder width apart. Bend to the left and extend the left elbow forward. Pause, return to starting position and next bend and extend the right elbow forward.
Feet Elevated Crunches: Lie on your back with hands behind head and legs bent at 90 degree angles, the lower legs on a bench, chair, or exercise ball. Raise shoulders off the floor. Pause, then lower to starting position. Be careful not to pull on your head or neck as you crunch up. Feel the burn as you let your abs crunch to do all the work.
Reverse Crunches: Lie on your back with hands behind a raised head with legs raised and bent at 90 degree angles. Proceed to raise hips off the floor, extending knees toward the head. Pause, then lower to starting position.
Side Bends: Stand with feet wide apart and hands behind the head. Bend to the right as far as you can. Pause, then rise and bend to the left. These will tighten and tone obliques which are rarely seen even on the trimmest guy, but strong obliques will streamline the waist- line!
Twisting Crunches: Lie on your back with hands behind a raised head with legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Proceed to raise the head and shoulders off the floor, twisting with all your might to the left. Pause, return to starting position and rise and twist to the right.
Single leg Crunches: Lie on your back with hands behind a raised head, with the left leg extended outward and the right leg bent, foot flat on the floor. Proceed to simultaneously raise shoulders off the floor while extending the left leg up. Pause, then lower to starting position. Perform 15 reps, then switch leg positions for another set.
Certainly, the above routine will strengthen and tone your abs, but that’s only part of the battle. Performing regular cardio (3-4 times per week for 15 minutes to an hour) and a low-fat diet are essential to your program if you really want all that hard work to show off a dynamite six pack!