Let me start off by telling you that if you want a six pack crunches are the wrong way to get them. This probably goes against the common belief that you have heard personal trainers tell you, infomercials try to sell you on this and your gym coach probably taught you. What I will outline will probably be controversial but hang in there with me and I will show you what you really need in order to get abs that others will admire.
Some of the techniques outlined below are also covered by Rusty Moore in his free Abs Blueprint 1.0, which I highly recommend. In it he gets in more detail with techniques and specific workouts that will help you bring out definition in your abs.
Here are some of the points that I will outline for you in order to achieve a 6 pack:
- Doing ONLY crunches will get you one step closer to a lower back injury
- You can not spot reduce the abs with any type of exercise
- In order to get a 6 pack you need to lower your body fat levels
- If you want your abs to show you need to do strength training and cardio
- You need to work on your core, not just your abs
Do Crunches, Get Hurt
Although this may sound like an exaggeration, the truth is that if you only do crunches you are really making your lower back weaker and making you more susceptible to injury. When you do an exercise like crunches you are flexing your spine in a forward motion. Most of us have been taught that this is the only exercise you need to bring out ab definition. Well, the problem is that crunches are doing 2 things:
- Making you upper torso focused
- Not strengthening the core area
Most of us think that this one exercise will be enough and so we end up neglecting the other areas of the core. Doing an exercise like crunches only flexes the 6 pack- also known as the rectus abdominis. It is important that other exercises are incorporated in order to strengthen the core, including the lower back, in order to avoid lower back injuries.
Sit Ups And Crunches Will Not Reduce The Fat
This is one of the worst misconceptions. Late night infomercials commonly pitch an abdominal exercises machine and promise you sharp abs if you buy their gimmick. Unfortunately, some personal trainers promise the same thing throughout many gyms. You are told that a certain number of reps and sets of sit-ups or crunches will do the trick when in reality the focus should be on burning fat. Unless you bring your fat percentage to a lower percentage you will not see your abs no matter how many abs/core exercises you do.
Use The Right Combination of Strength Training and Cardio To Burn Fat
I know we all want to take the easy route and lose pounds with as little effort as possible. It is easy to look at the latest fad diet like the Dr. Dukan Diet and think that this is all we need to get a flat stomach.
The bad news is that if you really are serious about burning fat you have to exercise. But who wants to get on a treadmill and jog for an hour? I don’t. Actually I never do. The best approach to burning fat using cardio is by doing interval training or short burst training. This type of training is brief in amount of time spent working out but the intensity is high. Interval training consists of doing a quick burst of activity followed by a rest period before doing a burst of high intensity again.
Some of the best programs like Turbulence Training apply these techniques so that you can burn fat in the least amount of time possible. By doing interval type training you are burning more calories in a less amount of time.
Strength training is also a very important component to getting closer to a six-pack. Although strength training is often avoided because there is a myth that you have to burn fat before building muscle unless you want to look bulky, the truth is that this is only a myth. Strength training is important if you want to burn fat much faster.
When we talk about strength training we are not speaking strictly of weight training. You can also do bodyweight workout routines and/or resistance bands training as effective alternatives. Strength training will help you burn more calories and help tone your muscles.
If you do this combination of interval type of cardio and strength training in a matter of a few months you will see a significant decrease in body fat percentage. The goal should be to get your body fat percentage as low as possible.
Eat Right And Reduce Your Calories
The second component that is important in order to bring out definition in your abs to reduce the number of calories you consume. By creating what is called a calorie deficit you will see a decrease in fat. Although this may sound difficult the important thing to do is to figure out the number of calories you are eating, count calories and then make adjustments by eating fewer calories.
Although this may sound a bit complicated and like more work than is necessary there are other methods, such as intermittent fasting, which is explained by Brad Pillon in his revolutionary diet program “Eat Stop Eat.”
Why Crunches Are Not Enough
As mentioned earlier, if you want a six pack crunches is the wrong way to go about this. A combination of different exercises that target the core muscles is the best approach in order to bring out definition once you have decreased your fat.
One of the biggest problems with crunches is that they do not create DENSITY in your abs. This one exercise does not force the muscle to contract with enough intensity to really create density in these muscles. Despite creating the calorie deficit that was mentioned above it is necessary to really train the abs with intensity.
The Types of Exercises That Create Dense And Defined Abs
Once you have brought your fat levels to a low level, for men it is from 10 percent and under, and for women it is under 20 percent, the exercises you can do are the following.
- Hanging Leg Raises (4-5 sets of 10)
- Planks (Hold for 1 to 2 minutes but try for 2 minutes)
- Side Planks (hold for 1 minute each side)
- Toe Touch Crunches Or V- Ups: lie down and with your feet up crunch up and try to touch your toes with the tips of your fingers (aim for 4-5 sets of 15 reps)
You can replace the hanging leg raise with lying leg raises.
Do this workout on two or three times a week on non-consecutive days.
Although hanging leg raises, lying leg raises and toe touches consist of flexing the spine in a forward motion, these exercises do apply sufficient intensity the overall ab region and this is necessary to create density. Also, by adding planks and side planks we are strengthening the core and lower back region in order to prevent future injuries.
The tips outlined above may sound like a long process, and it is, but it is also a long-term approach that will help you achieve a six pack crunches can’t do alone.
This is only one brief approach but for a thorough and detailed method I would recommend the free Abs Blueprint by Rusty Moore in your quest for a 6 pack.