I’ve gotta be honest. When I think of working my abdominal area, it has always involved crunches. In fact, I feel like I really haven’t worked my abs and sculpted them properly unless there are some form of crunches in my routine for ab workouts. I do feel the burn when I do things like planks, but it’s just not the same targeted, uber-sculpting that I feel I personally get from various types of crunching.
However, I’m starting to realize that not doing crunches all the time may be the best way to get the most rounded out and complete ab workout, especially as I get older and the traditional crunches that used to keep my belly flat aren’t quite doing the same trick they used to.
They are starting a new class at our place of employment called the Crunch Free Zone where they do all sorts of ab strengthening moves without actually doing crunches. You see, although crunches have always been the go-to exercise for the abdominals and a flat belly, they also have gotten a bit of a bad rap because they can be hard on the neck and back. Especially if people do them incorrectly, which unfortunately happens all the time.
Crunch free workouts include a lot of movements that are non-traditional that target the whole abdominal area, including the sides of the abs, upper abs and the “girdle” like muscles that a lot of the traditional ab workouts don’t tend to isolate.
They can include things like standing rotations from side to side with a medicine ball, lots of work on a balance or bosu ball, and things like variations of planks. One of my personal non-crunch ab moves is the plank with the elbows on the ground instead of the hands.
This move literally leaves me shaking because it isolates those lower and upper abs so well. In fact, I care barely do this move for more than 30 seconds to one minute, which seems like an eternity to begin with. I’m also usually very sore the next day after attempting to do multiples of these planks or if I hold one of them for a long time.
That really tells you something – that these types of moves go very deep into the abdominal muscles in ways that a lot of traditional sit ups cannot. In addition to being excellent workouts for the abs, crunch free workouts also tend to mix in other muscles with the abs, which adds to the calorie burning aspect of the workout.
A lot of these moves will incorporate your arms and legs, making them more of a compound move, and torching through a lot more energy and calories in the process, which helps to burn off the belly fat that you’re trying to burn off by doing ab workouts in the first place.
After some serious skepticism, I can honestly say that I’d recommend trying a crunch free workout. It really does have some serious benefits above and beyond the simple crunch workouts.