Adapted with permission of VeloPress from Core Envy: A 3-Step Guide to a Strong, Sexy Core by exercise physiologist and personal trainer Allison Westfahl. Learn more at coreenvybook.com.
Stop Doing Crunches!
It might come as a shock that a good core strengthening program should not include crunches!
As an exercise physiologist, I omit crunches from my personal training programs because they don’t utilize a significant percentage of your core musculature.
While it feels like you’re working hard when you’re 70 reps into a grueling round of 100 crunches, you are predominantly working a single muscle group—the rectus abdominis (rectus). In actuality, the true “core” of the body includes countless other muscles. It’s all the core muscles that affect how well you move—and how good you look.
This brings up the issue of function versus vanity. Why wouldn’t you want to focus your gym time on developing a rockin’ rectus? Aren’t those the beach muscles that look great with a spray tan? If a well-developed rectus is what turns heads, do we really need a well-rounded core routine that works all the other muscles?
The short answer is that a high-functioning core leads to a better-looking core.
Focusing on only a few core muscles can lead to poor posture (which makes your tummy stick out) and injuries (which will inhibit you from being able to work out). Build a solid foundation for your core with a well-rounded core routine, and you will accomplish the dual goals of looking good while being strong and pain-free.