Are you hitting the gym hard to develop the perfect abs? Then, you have heard that rigorous sit ups and crunches will take you to the promised land. So, you are spending hours doing sit ups or crunches.
Unfortunately, sit-ups and crunches can do little to get you your desired body shapes. Recent findings suggest classic sit-ups and crunches exercise can do more damage to your body than good.
In this piece, we will explore the repercussions of doing extensive sit-ups and crunches. In doing so, we will debunk the fitness myth that has been around for decades.
Do sit-ups and crunches really work? You can find the answer to that question in the following sections.
Do Sit Ups and Crunches Reduce Belly Fat?
The secret to chisel out celebrity-grade abs is to gain lean muscles and abolish body fat. You have to trim unnecessary body fat to get that Hedonic physique.
That does not come easy, however. You will have to limit your dietary intake and take protein-rich food all the time. Besides, you will have to take up exercises that eradicate body fat.
As strenuous situps and crunches are, they have a minimal contribution to burning body fat. These procedures are not able to target the surplus fat in your belly and make significant differences.
Diet, even more so than exercise is key, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but if you’re a beer monster or you think pizza is one of the food groups. You will be stuck with that pregnant look until they can’t close the lid on your eternal place of rest.
I have friends that supposedly train, who post their meals on social media with frequent regularity. Bad fatty foods shouldn’t be in a weight lifter’s repertoire, but they love to caption these meals “Cheat Day”. Absolute nonsense, they eat terrible more days than they eat healthily. Their cheat days are cheat months or to be honest, cheat years!
Gym Selfies, really?
They’re bereft of discipline, eat terrible then go to the gym and take selfies in their muscle vests. Posting their pics with captions like “Another hard workout is done”, “Killing it in the gym today” or “Early morning session”. When you look at their picture, you’ll see pectoral muscles that look more like a teenage girl developing her breasts. The top part of their Vest looks like a sports bra, spindly, flabby arms and they’re doing their best to suck in their gut.
The general consensus in the fitness world is that it’s seventy percent diet and thirty percent exercise. So if you can’t control what goes into your mouth, you will never progress and are doomed to a lifetime of sucking in your stomach whenever someone pulls out their camera phone.
Sit-Ups and Beer?
Beer is the worst thing you can consume. Most beers are 5%, so what’s in the other 95% that you’re consuming? Over the years you build up a tolerance to beer and need more to get a good buzz going. So you drink six, seven beers on a Friday, the same on Saturday and a few on Sunday to relax before you start your working week.
That is a guaranteed formula to walk around like a little chunky. Wine is not much better, because wine and beer are both full of sugar; alcohol in its pure unadulterated form is unpalatable. So a truckload of sugar is added to alcohol to make it palatable for the masses.
I currently don’t consume alcohol, I don’t socialise with anyone who drinks. I would not suffer a girlfriend who drinks either. As Richard Gere said in Pretty Woman, “I’m high on life, can’t you tell.”
Sit-Ups and Crunches Stress Your Back
When we do crunches or sit-ups, we lie on our backs and take our hands behind our heads while our feet remain on the floor. Afterwards, we move our upper torso without moving the rest of the body.
As a result, our body takes a curled shape and puts pressure on our core. Then we lower our upper body and bring it back to its original pre-curl position.
But, this can give rise to future health complications. Executing a crunch or sit-up requires us to bend our lower back so that we can mirror somewhat of a “c” shape.
The persistent pushing out of your lower back might not have any instant side effects that you can immediately perceive. However, it damages your lower back in the long run.
Academics have associated crunches and sit-ups with herniated discs.
Crunches and Sit Ups Can’t Address All Ab Muscles
Besides damaging your back in the long haul, crunches and sit-ups fail to cover all muscles in your core area. For this reason, they are far from effective to build desired muscle intensity in your abdominal region.
When we start the upward movement, we exert pressure on the back of our necks. This approach does fight off the effects of gravity and moves our upper torso forward.
There is a huge “but” involved. This entire procedure does not engage all the muscles you would want. Accordingly, you will not get ideal abs development and all your efforts will go in vain.
There are steps you can take to make this better. Don’t commit your full body weight when you rest your head on the back of your hands. This will have a greater impact on your core muscles when you bend forward.
As an alternative, you can choose to extend your hands to your years instead of taking them behind your head. Taking the pressure off of your hands is key to covering more core muscles while doing this.
In spite of these modifications, these drills will not be the best way to get your results. There are way more efficient exercise regimens that could turn to your advantages more.
We are saying this because the most effective sit-ups or crunches would only benefit your upper abs. Sit-ups would improve some of your lower abdominal muscles, but not all of them. Your oblique muscles will remain mostly ignored.
Crunches Will Increase Your Midsection
Gaining muscle mass in your midsection will make you appear bulkier. We doubt that it s your intended outcome when you take up crunches.
As we have explained before, crunches only focus on a specific part of your abdomen. So, it can’t do much in getting you toned packs of abs. It is no good in giving you a smaller waistline or better abdominal muscles.
Sit Ups Or Crunches
Sit-ups and crunches are fairly similar. Many people think the terms are interchangeable. But, the reality is, there are clear-cut differences that set apart the two.
A crunch is basically half sit up, The lower torso remains immobile, while you bring your upper torso forward. This impacts your upper abdominal muscles.
Sit-up also highlights a nearly identical idea. But, it is somewhat more intense. You would need to bring your upper body to an upright position. Consequently, it also has an effect on lower muscles.
Fitness enthusiasts commonly practice these moves in the gym. But, they are losing acceptance among experts because of the adverse ramifications they have on our body in the long haul.
The US Army, for example, has announced that it will remove sit-ups from its training regimen before 2021. The decision came in light of recent discoveries that revealed the harmful outcomes of sit-ups.
Crunches and situps throw away the natural balance of muscles in our body. They primarily improve some of your outer muscles while a lion’s share of inner muscles lies oblivious.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that crunches and situps will get you a ripped body. But, it will not back it up with inner muscle strength. So, this will do nothing but put on a ruse of fitness.
This false sense of fitness will not give your body stability or solidify your spinal integrity. You will be nothing but a showpiece if you commit fully to crunches and situps.
Excessive crunches and sit-ups can put you in danger of nerve damage. These exercises put your lower back through an arduous level of strain. This particular region is the physical hub of countless nerves.
Many people develop lower back problems at later stages of their lives. Crunches and sit-ups only accelerate that ailment. They further endanger an already vulnerable area in our body.
At some point, the nerve damage in this region could cause chronic pain that would refuse to go away. This will hinder your mobility and flexibility for the remainder of your life.
The continuous muscle flexes during sit-ups take a stern test of your spinal ability. The enhanced compression could lead to slipped discs, which would induce paralyzing muscle soreness in the back and legs.
If the stress nips your nerve, you will feel tingling sensations in your body from time to time. There would be shooting pains, and you will lose more and more mobility over time.
Sit ups and Crunches are Counterproductive
All forms of exercise make us feel exhausted. But, we still exercise because it keeps us healthy in the long run. The sole purpose of any exercise is to feel physically empowered.
You can relish this form of empowerment through regeneration and restoration. An efficient exercise plan will rejuvenate you and keep the signs of aging at bay.
We can’t achieve that through crunches and sit-ups. They put us at persistent risk of incurring severe injuries. But, in return, they don’t have anything substantial to offer.
So, crunches and sit-ups are actually holding you back. You are wasting your precious energy in doing these, while you could invest it to pursue more meaningful activities.
How to Get Abs Without Sit-ups or Crunches
As we have detailed out above, there is no need for sit-ups and crunches to get muscular abs. On the contrary, they expose you to multiple health perils. Here are some safer alternatives-
The Forearm Plank
- Commit your body weight on your toes and forearms. Then, raise your body off the ground.
- Keep your arms closer to your body. This will put more pressure on the center. Moving your arms away from the body, the pressure will disperse across your body instead of heading towards a specific region.
- To make the exercise easier, try to hold on to this position for 10 seconds. If you have prior experience of planking, try to hit the 30-second mark.
- Your hips and head should stay within the same straight line.
Stability Ball Mountain Climber
- Take a stability ball and place your elbows on it. Take a few steps back and replicate a plank position.
- Move one of your legs at a time and place it on the ball. Then, move it back to the original position and do the same with your other leg.
- Once you get a hold of it, you can make this exercise more burdensome. You can place your legs on a bench or take up a push-up position.
Plank with Leg Lift
- Take a plank position with your elbows grounded.
- Afterward, raise a leg about three to six inches off the ground.
- While doing this, your hips need to be parallel with the ground.
- After 30 seconds, put the leg back in its original position. Then, repeat the process with the other leg.
- Work your way to a minute as you become more used to this. Apart from abs, this exercise is also excellent for gluteal muscles.
Stir the Pot
- Place your elbows on a stability ball and lock your hands together in a tight clasp. Then, go back a few steps to take a plank position.
- Now, revolve the arms in a clockwise or an anti-clockwise manner. After circling it for a minute at a certain orientation, try the opposite approach.
- The unbalancing that results from this exercise will make your abs move doggedly.
- Keep your back as upright as possible. If it becomes overly curved, it would harm your back over time.
- If you research sit ups vs crunches vs planks, you will find that even the classic plank has significantly more benefit than the other two. You can make more of it by attempting the side plank.
- The side plank allows you to work on obliques other than the abdomen.
- Lie sideways on the floor. Put on hand on the floor and the other one at your waist.
- Lift your hip and move it up and down.
Single-Leg Glute Bridge
- Even though it focuses on hip and thigh muscles, the single-leg glute bridge can improve your abs as well.
- Lie on your back and both of your legs. Keep your hands on the floor by your side.
- Move your core and lift your hips up. The feet will remain bent while the hands and head will stay on the ground.
- Lower your hip and repeat the process.
Fitness coaches no longer prescribe their understudies to perform sit ups or crunches. We have cited the reasons that made professionals ditch these age-old exercise practices.
We have also shed light on some of the safer alternatives. You can pursue any of these, and expect much better results than sit-ups or crunches.
So to conclude, if having six-pack abs is more important to you than a six-pack of beer, sign up at your local gym for the H.I.I.T Classes. Run up hills or get yourself a mountain bike and get pedalling. Oh, I forgot to mention, riding a mountain bike is pure unadulterated, tremendous fun. It will also get you abs quicker than any amount of sit-ups or crunches.
I had the time of my life whizzing around on that beast, because it took me back to my childhood when I and my friends “the squad” would chop up the block on our BMX’s, darting in and out of alleys and through the neighbourhood streets.
You’ll have to make a conscious decision about alcohol, I started by limiting myself to two beers whenever I would go out, although you’ll always get that one alcoholic idiot that will try to pressure you into drinking more. Because he’s an alcoholic, he can’t stand to see someone exhibit self-control.
Even after you explain that you’re driving home and you’re at the legal alcohol limit. He’ll still try to pressure you to drink, calling you names and insulting your manhood because he feels you’re claiming a higher status than him by exacting self-control.
So limit yourself to two beers, try to improve your circle of friends, because if all your friends drink excessively and “Get on it”. Maybe start making new friends? Make friends at the gym, look for people who can help you grow. (Pun not intended.) Follow the same habits as Mike O’Hearn from the gladiators.
Remember train hard, cardio is your friend, not your enemy, lift heavy and lift often. A cheat day means exactly that, eat clean all week and have only one day you have a pizza, burger or the cheat food of your choice…!
Good luck, nobody cares, train harder…