Maybe because January 1st is just around the corner or maybe your visit to PLC is just next week – for whatever reason it may be, we have all been guilty of belting out countless sit ups or crunches in a desperate attempt to achieve a toned, beach-ready stomach.
Well, what if I told you that if you never did another sit up or crunch, I’d actually prefer it? Crunches and sit-ups have been engrained in all of our minds as the best abdominal exercise since we were in elementary school PE class doing the “presidential challenge.” Contrary to popular belief, sit-ups and crunches can often do more harm than good.
Sit ups cause the spine to move in a way which can be damaging. This outdated exercise has been named the source of low back pain and has been known to cause a herniated or bulging disc. Considering that sit-ups and crunches work in opposition to the natural curvature of the spine, low back discomfort is more common than not.
Before you go boycotting core exercises altogether, let me provide you with an alternative in which the benefits far outweigh the risks. After all, core strengthening is essential for everyone and can’t be left undone.
Planks are a comprehensive exercise that has been proven to be safer and more effective then crunches and/or sit ups. Planks activate your abdominal and trunk muscles, thus strengthening your core in its entirety. Even though planks look relatively simple and maybe even easy, they are actually far more difficult than you would think. Planks promote proper posture and spinal position, all while improving muscular strength and endurance throughout your abdominal muscles, oblique’s, spinal erectors, glutes, chest, hamstrings, and arms (to a lesser extent). You can also add in a nice side plank to better target your oblique’s if you feel like you need a little extra challenge added to your core routine. Without adding unnecessary compression to your spine, planks help the core to do what it is supposed to do – stabilize the spine. All in all, planks beat out crunches and sit ups every time when it comes to safety and effectiveness!