You’ve seen the infomercials: Get six-pack abs in just ten minutes a day with The <enter cheesy name here>!
There is no cure-all exercise for your abs. That’s the bad news….AND the good news! On top of diet and sticking to a good workout, your abdominal muscles (actually a group of different sets of muscles) need to constantly be stimulated in order to be seen. The crunch alone will not only not give you those washboard abs you’re dying for: it’s also one of the least safe exercises, when done improperly.
Since, the crunch only works one set of muscles (the upper rectus abdominus, to be exact), we’ll make the switch of how to REALLY make that set work!
The Fix: Call the Cable Guy!
The cable crunch is one of my favorite exercises! The resistance can be great and can stimulate growth (as opposed to the same old body weight crunch. As you can see from the diagram above, you’re keeping a rope attachment behind your neck and bringing your elbows to the mat (or floor).
There are a few things to remember while doing this:
- While you’re holding the rope, that should be all that’s going on with your arms. Don’t use them to pull down the weight! If you find yourself doing that, either lighten the load or consider the set “to failure.”
- I’m sure it’s cool to show off and throw on all the weight at the pulldown station. Consider this, though: like all other muscles, the more weight you throw up, the bigger the muscle is going to get. Instead of a six pack, you can end up with a keg! You’re better off doing 20-30 reps at a lighter weight than you are 5-10 reps at a heavier weight.
While I love this exercise, I only do it once a week (sometimes, even every other week). Remember, the key to every muscle group, let alone abs, is muscle confusion. You need to mix up the movement, the weight and even the rep/set counts. Also, like all other muscles, they need rest, so no doing back-to-back ab days! If you work them right the first time, you shouldn’t be able to do work on them the next day anyways.
Now go get in the gym and try this out!