You started doing crunches in gym class and probably never stopped, no matter how much you wanted to.
But are they really the best way to fire up your six-pack abs? They’re certainly targeted to that specific muscle group, but these movements are not grounded in everyday life.
Your abs are so isolated while doing them that you’re not building up other parts of your core and putting an extra burden on your back and neck, leaving them extra-vulnerable to injury.
Weights work your abs in tandem with your internal and external obliques, transverse abs and other midsection muscles for a well-rounded workout that gives you the power and definition you’re seeking.
Try these moves and feel the difference.
- Begin with one weight (kettlebell or dumbbell) in “rack” position in front of each shoulder.
- Brace your core and lift weights straight up until your arms lock at each shoulder, ensuring they don’t lean to the side, before returning to rack position. Repeat five times.
- At the top of the fifth rep, leave weights high above your head.
- Take a few deep breaths before starting to walk, keeping your core engaged and your arms close to your ears.
- Walk about 25 feet before turning around and returning to your spot.
STRAIGHT-LEG BARBELL SITUP
- Lie on the floor with your legs flat and holding a lightly weighted barbell over your chest, as in a bench press.
- Bring your torso upward while keeping the barbell in position until it’s vertical — don’t crunch!
- Return to original position. Do up to five reps.
DUMBBELL BEAR CRAWL
- Begin on your hands and knees holding a dumbbell in each hand as it touches the floor. Elevate your knees until you’re standing on the balls of your feet.
- Move one dumbbell forward while advancing the opposite foot underneath you.
- Repeat with other arm and leg to crawl forward. Continue for at least 15 feet — after you’ve had a little practice, try crawling backward to return to your base.