Perhaps one of the easiest exercises to do is an abdominal workout. All you need is to lie on the floor and then get into the groove of things. You don’t have to rely on any machines, cables or free weights. How difficult can that be, right?
You can’t be more wrong.
The truth is all exercises come with a certain degree of risk. So too does an abdominal workout, if not done the right way. You could strain your neck (as most people would) or in the case of a friend of mine, experience an acute pain in her back.
Most of you are already familiar with the crunch. The abs crunch is still the perennial favourite of all my clients as it’s the easiest to execute. But to execute it with finesse and reap the benefits, you have to make sure you are doing it the right way.
The crunch is easier than the sit-up as you don’t have to go all the way. So long as you contract your pelvic muscle (yes that’s the one that holds your pee) and exhale on your way up, that’s half the crunch battle won. The other half battle only requires you to crunch till you see your knees and feel your abs at work. There is no need to go all the way as if you are doing a sit-up. Nobody does sit-ups nowadays anyway.
This sounds easy. But there are two useful tips you will need to bear in mind.
First, never place your hands behind your neck when doing the crunch. You think your hands behind your neck act as a cushion. But when you do this, you are unnecessarily stressing the neck when you start to crunch. Besides causing tremendous strain and pain on your neck (hello, it’s an abs crunch, not a neck crunch), you are also cheating yourself as you are not working your abs hard enough. Instead, you are using the upward swing momentum of your arms and palms locked on your neck to move up. The best is to place your hands by your side. But if you really have to, then put them behind your ears, with only your fingers gracing your ears and elbows flat on the floor.
Beginners, like that friend of mine too, should take special care of their back. As the lower back is the weakest link of the entire body, it is thus most prone to injury. A crunch novice lacking abdominal strength is likely to compensate for his/her weakness by using their backs when doing crunches. Using your back not only defeats the purpose of an abs crunch, but also puts a strain on it. Keep the back flat when doing your abdominal exercise.
So is the crunch still any easy abs exercise to do? You bet! If you watch the back and keep your hands by the side, you will be fine. In fact, you will be crunching your way to some sexy six pack abs!