Crunches are fine for achieving a strong core, but they're not going to help you in your quest for a super-firm, trim midsection.
If you really want to show off your abs, you must lose fat—especially the layer that covers (and hides) the muscles underneath.
As a matter of fact, good-looking abs have less to do with exercise (although strength training should be a part of your plan) and more to do with your diet and cardio conditioning.
Your diet affects your body's ability to burn fat. To burn more fat:
- Drink lots of water
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals and snacks
- Eat lean protein, clean carbs, and healthy fats
- Increase protein consumption to about 0.6-0.8 grams per (desired) pound of body weight
- Minimize fried foods and sweets
When it comes to cardio, skip the slow, steady stuff in favor of:
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which helps get fat out of storage and into the bloodstream where it can be used for energy. Alternate bouts of high-intensity activity with low-intensity intervals.
- Thirty seconds of fast-paced running followed by 90 seconds of light jogging. You can do this while walking or biking, or on a treadmill, elliptical machine, stepper, etc.
- Skip the Crunches in the weight room and try Planks.
After you've mastered the Plank with both arms, try these variations:
- One arm elevated
- One leg elevated
- One arm and opposite leg elevated
- Hands on BOSU ball (flat side up)
- Feet on physioball
- Hands (or forearms) on physioball
- Alternating, touching elbow to opposite knee
- TRX plank with feet suspended
- TRX plank with arms suspended
- Side plank
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