We talked about belly breathing yesterday, and today I'd like to talk about core strength. Far too often, I get asked how many crunches one needs to do in order to get that coveted six pack. First and foremost, I respond by saying that a six-pack is not made in the gym. It's not made by spot-training your abs to death. You have to combine a good diet with cardio and strength training to achieve that which so many of us want. And by strength training, I do mean that you have to perform some core exercises. You can't completely avoid them. But you can, if you want to, avoid crunches.
The crunch is not the be-all, end-all core exercise. You can do millions of them and see no improvement in the tone of your core. That's not to say they're a bad exercise. But so many people do them wrong which renders them ineffective. Rather than give you the rights and wrongs of the crunch, I'd like to take you outside of the box with a workout that combines a bit of yoga with some Pilates and traditional core work. Take a look:
Try and move from one exercise to the next. Don't rush, keep every move nice and smooth and remember to breathe deep. Pause between each go-through.
DOWN DOG SPLIT WITH KNEE TUCK
In a traditional down dog pose, extend your right leg and then tuck it into your chest while moving from down dog to plank position. Extend the leg, bringing yourself back into down dog split. Repeat.
PILATES ROLL UPS
Lie flat on your back, arms extended above your head to create one long line with your body. Legs should be straight. Contract your abs, keeping your elbows by your ears as you roll up to a seated position, proceeding to roll forward toward your toes before lying back down again one vertebrae at a time. This move, especially, needs to be slow and controlled.
This workout can be done alone on cardio days or in addition to upper body, leg or total-body days. Please modify if you need to—contact me if you need modifications. I'd be happy to suggest alternatives. And, as always, please check with your doctor before beginning any new or rigorous activity.
One last thing—remember that it's really not about getting a six pack. Strive instead for a core that's strong and supportive because your core, after all, is the center of all that your body does. As cheesy as it sounds, it's what on the inside that counts. And that's where you'll find your strength. Inside. Literally...and also figuratively.
Questions: Do you add crunches to your core workout? What is your favorite non-crunch core exercise?