Crunches don't make your abs flat

Wed, February 06, 2019 2:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Guest Blogger: Samantha Montpetit-Huynh, CPTN-PT, PFS, NWS, RAB
Pre & Postnatal Exercise Specialist

Crunches don’t make your abs flat.

Yes, this is true.

All you have to do is ask any experienced fitness or health professional and they will tell you, the best way to get flat abs (or anything close to that) is through food.

Sad, I know.

However, there are things that you can do to help recruit your abdominal muscles to strengthen and support you and crunches ain’t it.

I will tell you why.

The reality is crunches and sit ups are a flexion of the spine to help “crunch” the abdominal muscles together and make them stronger – BUT they also make them bigger.

Say what???

Well, if you think about it….do we perform bicep curls (a flexion movement) to create a flat bicep?


And there’s research!

Stuart McGill, professor at the University of Waterloo in spine biomechanics tells us that crunches recruit less than 20% off your rectus abdominis and overload your spine outside of healthy limits.

In other words, you are doing all of this hard work (with good intentions of course) to get less than 20% return AND you are putting yourself at risk for spinal injury!

So for all of those times that you are pulling on your head and killing yourself to do the “100 crunches a day” challenge; I ask you…’s it workin’ for ya?

It’s not.

The fact is, unless you have to perform a flexion movement repetitively over and over again, there is no reason to perform crunches as you are really wasting your time.

Having said that, flexion IS also a part of our life. Getting in and out of bed, or suddenly having to “sit up” is something that happens so removing all flexion isn’t a good idea either.

So although I’m not a “big” fan, there is a time and place for them in your workout routine but it’s primarily to mimic a movement that you practice in daily life, not for a six pack.

Instead choose movements like dynamic planks and other various core foundation exercises that recruit more than just your rectus abdominis, but your transverse (the deepest layer) and your obliques (middle layer) too!

Check out our fitness page to learn more our #mumnetfitness

A thought leader when it comes to women’s health, Samantha Monpetit-Huynh started out working with pregnant women and new moms when she herself became one.

Over the last 15+ years, she has shared her passion and knowledge for fitness and health on several platforms to help spread the word that fitness is not a luxury but a basic requirement for physical as well as mental and emotional health as well.

A published author of Pregnancy Fitness, she is an expert in her field, helping women stay strong, healthy and pain free during the most important period of a woman’s life and the many, many years afterwards. Read more over on Sam's blog!

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