To Crunch or to Plank?

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With summer just around the corner everyone is increasing their crunch count and decreasing their calorie count. In all corners of the gym you will see focused determined people sweating and grunting their way to a beach body. If you are guilty of the preceding then why not workout effectively and efficiently. Will a crunch or a plank be your most effective abdominal exercise? Both have the purpose of strengthening the trunk muscles but one will get you the strength you are looking for much quicker.

Both exercises recruit muscle fibers from the rectus abdominus muscle (the six pack muscle) and the oblique muscles (the muscles running along the sides of your stomach) . The plank is an isometric exercise which requires the abdominal muscles to exert enough strength to hold your body in a horizontal supported position. A crunch requires fiber recruitment that provides enough strength to lift your upper body through the pelivic girdle’s full range of motion. Research shows that the crunch recruits muscle fibers from both the rectus abdominus and oblique muslces where a plank mainly recruits only from the rectus abdominus. So although both exercises will get you closer to your dream beach body the original crunch will get you there much quicker. At the same time don’t vito the plank from your routine, all you have to do is spice it up a bit.

To increase the results of the crunch and the plank you can progress the exercises by making them more functional. By this I mean add other movements into it or add some extra weight. There are many versions to either exercise and for your reference I have listed some examples with descriptions below.

X-Abs: Laying on your back with arms extended above your head creating an x with your body. Raise your right hand up and at the same time raise your left foot and bring them together above your body. Return to the original position and repeat with the opposing side. When completing the exercise ensure to really contract your abdominal muscles throughout the entire movement.

Bicycles with band: Get into the position of the bicycle exercise but to increase the intensity attach a band to your feet. To do so wrap the band around a solid structure behind your head and place your feet in the hand grips. As you extend your legs throughout the exercise the band adds resistance. This will increase your heart rate as well and burn extra calories.

Plank Jack Spider: Start in a plank position; ensuring your back is not drooping nor is it too high creating a box. Jack your legs out to the side of your body (just like a regular jumping jack but now you are on your forearms), once back to the starting position bring your right knee up along the side of your body towards your elbow and repeat with the other leg. This exercise is an all around core exercise hitting all four abdominal muscles.

There you have it! Add these to your routine and you will be sure to get the beach body you desire.

~Ashly Hill
@excel_p
www.excelperformance.ca

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