We’ve all seen the internet and magazine headlines, demanding that we get in “Bikini Body Shape” or promising a quick and easy way to “Get Rock Hard Abs!” But you and I know that there’s no magic bullet to getting that six pack – it takes hard work and consistency. But the next time you see that same guy at the gym killing himself with reps or that a little-too-intense fitness trainer demanding that someone complete those sit-ups at break-neck speed, you can take solace in knowing that you won’t repeat their same mistakes when it comes to ab crunches. Right?
Read on and find out whether you’re guilty of any of these seven “Abdominal Crunch Mistakes”:
Pulling On Your Neck With Your Hands
It seems as though people take out their frustration with crunches on their necks. Yanking on your neck will not make your crunch any more productive, but will in fact, most certainly pull a muscle in your neck. Your arms really have nothing to do with crunches; it’s all about your rectus abdominis (most commonly known as the six-pack muscle). If you just can’t seem to break your neck-pulling habit, try keeping your arms straight down by your sides and hovering them just off the ground. If that just doesn’t feel like a “crunch” to you, bring your arms up to the stereotypical crunch position but hold onto your ears. There’s nothing worse than your ears being pulled on!
Jutting Your Chin to the Ceiling
Imagine there is a tennis ball between your chin and your chest. Keep that tennis ball shape present throughout the entire time you are doing your crunches. If you jut your chin to their ceiling the muscles in the back of your neck will be getting an intense workout. In turn, you’ll be rewarded with a sore neck and possibly a headache, a few hours after you do your crunches.
Pushing Your Lower Back Into The Mat
To truly help your core, you need to keep your pelvis and spine in a neutral position while doing crunches. Your pubic bone and two hips bones (ASIS’s) will be in a plane parallel to the floor. Once you get your pelvis in neutral you’ll notice that your low spine has a natural curve, which needs to be maintained while you do crunches.
Not Curling Up High Enough In Your Back
Most people can anatomically roll up to about the 8th thoracic vertebra, which is about the bottom of your shoulder blades (ladies, that’s about your bra line) while still being able to keep their pelvis in neutral. That’s how high you need to roll up in your crunch every time. Curling just your head and neck forward doesn’t help your abdominal muscles at all.
Pulling Your Elbows Forward
Save the chicken dance for another time and keep your elbows wide to the side and stationary. Again, your arms have nothing to do with crunches. Engaging your pecs, which is mainly what will happen when your bring your elbows forward, will only preoccupy your mind from focusing on correct form and engaging your abs.
Using Momentum And Going Way Too Fast
Slow and steady wins the race – and gets you rock hard abs way quicker than doing crazy fast crunches. When you get better at crunches you don’t get faster, you get slower and more controlled because you aren’t using momentum any more.
Pounding Out 100 Crunches With Bad Form
Ten slow crunches in beautiful form can take the same amount of time that 100 super fast crunches with bad form can take. It’s not about how many you do. Focus on perfect form instead of how many you are doing. The moment you notice your form is lacking, your muscles are tired and you need to take a break.
Now get to work and do those crunches correctly!
PS: If you have scoliosis, you know how important it is to develop a strong, abdominal core; and, you know where to place padding along your spine if needed, right? If you have any questions about where to place pads, check out the Starting Point video series.