People often tell me that they do a lot
of "crunches" and other abdominal fitness work but
still dont seem to get the flat stomach they want. There
is a simple explanation for this inordinate amount of work
for the limited success that seems to follow: The problem
is that the primary muscle you work when you do a "crunch"
(the rectus abdominus) doesnt have much effect on the
abdomen. In order for the abdomen to become flat, other muscles
need to come into the workout.
A main factor in getting to a flat stomach
involves working the transverse abdominus. It is attached
to the rectus abdominus muscle on the front side of your body
and to the spine at the back side. When you contract the transverse
abdominus, it tugs your navel area toward your spine, in back
of you. Working the oblique muscles of the waistline can also
help flatten your stomach area.
You can add the extra punch to your "crunches"
by paying closer attention to how you complete the "crunches."
When you contract your muscles to move upward in the crunch,
pull your navel toward your spine with increased effort. It
helps to visualize that youre pressing your rib cage
downward toward your pelvic area. Just this little change
in emphasis will make a big difference in the way your "crunches"
Besides good form, be sure to continue to
challenge your muscles by increasing the amount of work as
you improve. Once you work up to 20 repetitions, its
time to increase the intensity. Or, try slowing the movement
way down and concentrating even more on your form.
One more important factor in abdominal area
flatness is often overlooked in favor of more repetitions
and that is the amount of food you are consuming in comparison
to the amount of fitness work you are doing. If you are storing
body fat in your abdominal area because you are overeating,
extra work on "crunches" wont be as successful
in revealing the taut, flat muscles beneath the fatty tissue.
The muscles are sleeping under a layer that needs to be dieted
off in conjunction with exercise for maximum results. So,
dont sabotage all that hard work by giving yourself
too much freedom to pack on extra pounds. As usual, a balance
seems to work best when trying to achieve the most effective
blend of diet and exercise.