that is absolutely great information to know! it came at a great time, because i was wondering how exactly to do a crunch. i remember in high school doing actual situps and they hurt my back so badly. thanks for the great post, it's very useful! =)
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Fitness Minutes: (7,106) Posts: 1,735 2/13/07 12:34 P
I am not able to do crunches, due to an injury I sustained that makes it impossible to lift my head multiple times. But what I have found that works well for me is three different exercises. I lay with my back flat on the floor and lift my legs. I hold on to something that won't move and move my legs down and up, usually 50 times-these work so well, they were dicipline in my Tae Kwon Do class, go figure. The other two that I do are sitting in an upright crunch position and rotating with a medicine ball 15 reps for each side. Lastly, I do the forarms on the floor, toes on the floor for 1 min. I feel this a lot! and these three work a few areas of your abs too.
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Ok, Incline situps are different, to get up you HAVE to use your abs, so no, you are not working your hips only. Those are fine and won't bulge out your hips.
TammyLO1229: You should keep doing ab work even if you have belly fat on your abs. The reason is that your abs are your core in every cardio workout. (And they do burn some calories, although not as much as a high impact aerobics or dance class). Because they are the core of every cardio workout, the stronger your abs the more productive your workout. You will be able to do more moves, your movements will become more stable and precise. Your balance will increase, and you will be able to find your center (in pilates speak). More productive work outs lead to more calories being burned. More calories burned leads to more loss of fat.
When losing weight if you cannot focus your center on your abs then your center will be shifting constantly. With your center shifting constantly you will not be able to do the basic dance moves correctly, or even jog productively. Your core is vital to working out. Not to mention, when you do finally get to that low BMI, you will already have the abs to show. No more work needed, except ab maintenance.
Developing your abs will not make your stomach appear bigger, unless you just go haywire and build giamongus body builder abs. It is really no different than any other type of strength training. You wouldn't wait to start strength training on your arms or legs until after you had burned all of the fat on your arms and legs, your abs are no different.
The thing with abs is that people tend to associate them with cardio and not strength training because they are so integral to productive cardio workouts, and done in almost every well rounded cardio workout from pilates to yoga, to dance to aerobics to jogging. When in reality, abs are strength training and should be seen as a supplement to cardio, not cardio itself.
So, bottom line, stronger abs lead to more focused and productive cardio which leads to loss of belly fat which leads to being able to work those abs more, which leads to even more focused cardio, which leads to more loss of belly fat, which eventually over several months or years, leads to a nice stomach. It definitely doesn't happen overnight, and takes constant work.
If you want to combine both abs and cardio in a way other than doing crunches because you are really worried. Look into a dance, pilates, or kickboxing class or video. They are great at building abs while you get your cardio in without much more work than just the video or class.
Does it make any since to do ab work if you have belly fat over your abs? Can they wait until most of the belly fat is gone? Will developing ab muscles make your stomach apear bigger if you have fat on the tummy?
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Good info and work out to have, thanks for sharing. Question though if you are doing incline sit-ups on a bench, will these work or abs or your hips? When I do them I definately feel it in my abs, but I don't want to bulge out my hips any more than they already are!
While I was teaching my dance class tonight, one of my girls was talking about wanting some awesome abs. She has been doing hundreds of crunches and wanted to know why she had no abs. So, as I was watching my students, I noticed, as well as quickly corrected, some abdominal crunch issues. I thought they might be helpful to someone if I posted them.
First, crunches will build your abs but not burn fat. (short of burning a relatively small amount of calories). Crunches cannot be substituted for cardio. A person cannot really see the six pack outline of their abs until they are at around 10-15% body fat. Not to mention, not everyone has the same body type, and some body types have a more difficult time showing abs than others. So, don't get discouraged if you can't see them completely.
Second, when doing a crunch do not jerk on your neck because then the only muscles you are working are your pecs and you can strain your neck. If your elbows are flying forward or your arms are jerking back and forth with every crunch you are doing it incorrectly. If you are having problems with this, move your arms to your sides and do not touch your neck. Just move your arms in a horizontal pattern by your sides.
Third, Do not try to sit all the way up because then you are just working your hips. Not only can this cause lower back problems for women, it can also build hip muscles in wierd ways because you are using hips and lower back to lift. As nice as it is to have some curve. Sitting up all the way will do nothing for your abs and will likely build muscle in your hips essentially widening your hips and hurting your back in the process. Just don't do it. (This is not the same for guys because their body works differently.
The trick to crunches:
When doing an actual crunch you should be doing a squeeze and release motion with your stomach. Your body should be moving in a horizontal line, not vertical. Almost like an in and out motion. When you squeeze your abs exhale, when you release, inhale. (It helps to count out loud when you squeeze).
Seriously, try it. When you squeeze your abs while laying down. You should rise up a tiny little bit. That is as far as you should go. If you try to get up higher than that you are working too hard and working the wrong part of your body.
You might or might not get completely off the ground. Whether or not your crunch leaves the ground depends on the strength of your abs and weight. Essentially the weight in your shoulders and top part of your belly.
And one last tip from the dancer digest.
Mix it up. It is really boring to just sit around and do straight crunches, and it only works one part of your ab muscle. Dig around online and learn some different ways to do crunches. A good series of crunches will have an equal amount of traditional crunches, crunches that work a little more on obliques, and crunches that work on the lower abs. Here is the list of crunches we do each week in our class:
Regular crunches (x25) Crunches with legs straight up in the air (x25) Crunches with the right arm out perpendicular to your body and lifting toward your right (x25) Same crunches to the left (x25) regular crunches (x25) Lift legs six inches from the ground and hold (25 seconds, do not do this if you feel strain on your lower back)
Alternative crunch: If the six inches from the ground is hurting your back then the alternative crunch is to bend your knees at a 90 degree angle and lift them up off of the ground. Lay your hands by your sides. Move your legs STRAIGHT in and out at the 90 degree angle, do not drop them or scoop them down. (x25)
So there is my hip hop ab workout. If anyone is interested.
If you are new at doing crunches or just starting in again don't start with all 125 crunches. Work your way up. Spend a week with 25 reps. Then the next two weeks shoot for 50. Then the next 3 weeks go for 75. The next 2 weeks 100. The next 2 weeks 150. And so on...
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