Nov, 1, 2011
All About Abs: Plank vs. Crunches for Core Strength
There seems to be an obsession when it comes to abs. Whether you get it from holding plank or doing crunches, having a good-kind-of-sore feeling in your midsection has a certain satisfaction.
We all want nice, flat bellies, but is doing hundreds of crunches the solution?
There are so many exercises to strengthen the core, and it’s important to remember that the abdominal muscles are only part of what makes your core stable.
Here’s some wisdom from the Kamloops Yoga Boot Camp files, and some insight into why we do the things we do.
First of all, if you have a bit extra hanging out around your belly, targeting your abs is not the most effective way to lose weight.
In fact, big compound movements (that involve many big muscles) are going to help you burn fat, while you could do crunches forever and not lose that many inches.
Ab exercises tone the muscles, but don’t burn a ton of calories. You want to make the big muscles in your body stronger as they’ll do a much better job at that.
So if you’re wanting to slim down, your best bet is to combine strength, interval, and cardio training with core work (plus a solid nutrition plan). Just like we do in camp.
Squat jumps and burpees are your friends!
Plank vs. Crunches: The Best Ab and Core Exercises
When it comes to toning your abs, plank is one of the BEST exercises you can do.
Sure, crunches can help because they put your abs through a range of motion that contracts the abdominal muscles… However, while crunches actually enforce the lousy slouching position we tend to fall into, rounding the back and shortening the front body, plank asks you to use your whole core (back muscles as well as front).
Plank also teaches your core muscles to hug IN to support you.
And really, isn’t that just what you want your abs to do? You want them to move inwards, creating the hourglass shape that we’re looking for as women.
We do forearm plank (forwards and to each side) in almost every yoga boot camp class. We do this because it’s one of the best exercises for your core stabilizing muscles, AND it tones your abs better than crunches.
Yes, we do some crunches too, but they aren’t our main focus, and we generally do a back strengthening exercise right after to create balance and enforce healthy postural alignment. By the way, as far as crunches go, bicycle crunches work more of the abs than most others. No wonder these are the main crunches we do, eh?
What’s cool with plank is that you can feel yourself get stronger and holding plank for longer actually gets easier as you practice it.
As far as overall core exercises go, we do so many exercises that involve the core. In fact, just about every exercise can be a core strengthener, because you learn to use your stabilizing muscles in everything you do. From movement prep to plank rows, twisting lunges to push-ups, your core assists in it all, and you can use all of these to tone and develop your core.
When you engage your core in alignment, you not only create a healthy habit that helps you look good, you will also feel more confident, carry yourself more brightly, and decrease risk of injury.
So, how ‘bout it? Ready to do some forearm plank?
What is your favourite core strengthening exercise? Please leave a comment below and share!
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