The other day I was thinking about why gyms are known as 'fitness centers' and not 'slimming' or 'weight loss' hubs. If you are aiming to lose weight, the goal should not be the achievement of a certain number in terms of kilograms or pounds. The battle is not in shedding but in maintaining yourself after all the hard work. The truth is that weight loss is temporary, you can always gain it back. One therefore needs to seek a more permanent approach towards fitness. Instead of thriving for a slimmer figure, the goal should be to get better stamina and endurance; to be able to run faster or lift heavier - to be the better version of you with every passing day.
You don't get better by keep doing what you do every day. When monotony seeps in and you begin to get comfortable with things around, it is a sign for you to shake things up, challenge yourself and set out on a brand new journey. The same is true for fitness as well. There will come a day when those morning runs will cease to be grueling and those crunches won't hurt your abs any longer. In that case you run faster and farther, and you ditch those regular crunches and get down to doing some exciting variations.
The abdominal group of muscles is crucial for many bodily movements including your ability to lift things, hold a position and balance the entire body. Training these muscles is imperative to ensure a strong and efficient core. Once you get comfortable with standard crunches these five variations will keep you busy and pumped up for at least a few more weeks to come.
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1. Oblique Crunches
These actively engage the muscles located on each side of your abdomen. Begin by doing 3 sets of 10 reps.
2. Bicycle Crunches
Apart from working on your abdominal muscles, this variant works on your obliques as well as thighs. Try lifting your legs in the air and crunching for a more challenging workout. Start by 3 sets of 10 reps each.
3. Reverse Crunches
These look pretty easy to pull off but take a toll on the abs. It involves your lower body. 3 sets of 20 each.
4. Crunches with Leg Variations
One of the easiest ways to get into a variation is to try different positioning of your leg. You can do regular crunches by (a) Keeping your legs in the air at 90 degree angle, (b) Keeping your legs straight in the air, feet pointing up at the ceiling, (c) Positioning your leg at 45 degree or various other angles. Doing so will add varied intensity into the crunching movement and put pressure at different areas of your abdomen.
5. Double Crunch
This variant is a double whammy as it combines the effectiveness of regular crunches with the reverse crunch variation. You crunch and lift your legs up to make your knees meet your head halfway. This version engages your abs as well as your lower body.
"Always maintain space between your chin and your chest while crunching. It doesn't matter if you are trying out the regular crunches or working with variations. Draw your belly button into the base of your spine. Exhale as you go up and inhale as you go back," Prosenjit Biswas, Fitness Manager at Skulpt.
Crunches should never be confused with sit-ups wherein your body goes full up into the sitting position. Crunches on the other hand involve keeping your body lower than the sitting position. These require lower back stability on the floor and minimal involvement from the hip flexors.
"Don't go too fast, going faster doesn't improve the quality of the workout, you should always go slow to feel maximum burn and get pronounced results," concluded Prosenjit.