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What Do Crunches Do For My Stomach?
Recently I was finishing up one of my private training clients workouts with a challenging abdominal crunch routine.
Upon completion of the set, I turned to her and asked her if she knew why we did ab exercises? She looked at me with a puzzled expression and said, “Well, I guess to flatten my stomach, right?”
Now I am fully aware that she is not alone in this thought process and you may have had the same hopes yourself? You know, crunching until your abs feel like they are going to explode with the only thought in your mind being that it’s going to be worth it, the fat is literally melting right off, just keep pushing!
Well, I hate to burst that bubble of intrinsic motivation butttt…. That set you did, that burning you felt, it wasn’t melting the fat off, as a matter of fact, it wasn’t doing much at all for the actual circumference of your gut.
WHAT!? (I know, now you’re thinking your whole life is a lie, stay with me)
That’s right, it is my firm belief that abdominal crunches in no way, shape, or form flatten your stomach. They serve one purpose, and one purpose only.
Are you ready?
Don’t get too pumped.
The answer is …
To inspire stabilization of your spine…I know, BUZZ KILL, right!?
Before you check out and think I’m nerding out on you, stick around if you want to be able to pick up your kid or pet without pain.
Just keep reading.
Fun fact: Did you know that if you were to eliminate all of your muscles surrounding the spine, your spine would collapse with under 25 lbs of pressure?
Let me put that into perspective, this means if you have kids or even a small pet, you wouldn’t be able to pick them up off the ground without massive injury.
Yikes, that sounds like an outrageous hospital bill am I right?
Keep reading to avoid the bill (or death).
Allow me to give you some insight on why this is far more important than you may think.
Consider this, every compound movement we make requires spinal stability and a strong core musculature. Well lucky for you, this abdominal work you have been doing does just that.
It strengthens the muscles surrounding your spine to increase overall strength of your core musculature and improve many other facets of your core.
Good news is, with a little ab work it is now safe to pick up the pet or the kid. (whew, dodged a bullet there).
This ab work not only stabilizes the spine, but in turn improves the efficiency of your movement and makes you stronger when attempting more popular strength movements such as Pushes, Pulls, Squats, Deadlifts and even Running!
Simply put, I believe that the most important function of the core musculature is stability. Whether you squat, deadlift, push, pull, hinge, twist, or run- the most important thing within those movements is how stable your spine and stabilizers are.
So, while the reasoning for your crunches aren’t as physically sexy anymore, for your kids’ sake, for your pets’ sake, and for your movements’ sake – drop to the floor, ignore the haters and crank out your favorite pain-free ab exercise!
What are some of your favorite abdominal exercises?
Join the conversation!