Question: Question from Miss Addy M

Hi Lisa. I just wanted your opinion on this particular matter. It's about abs. I have all but given up on doing crunch after crunch to tone my abs. I now prefer to engage my core muscles in every exercise I do...and I find that when I use dumbbells or the sand bag (e.g. figure 8 exercises, Russian twists, upright and bent-over rows) my abs also get a good workout, simply by having learnt to engage the core and keep it tight. I also do planks in all their variations (dolphin planks, side planks, raised planks, planks with raised leg/arm etc.)and I find these help. Would you recommend I still include good old fashioned crunches in my routine?

Answer

Hi Lisa! I have long been in favour of the plank over the traditional crunch – ANY day! To me, it’s more about all over fitness before you’ll see it in your abs – so compound exercises, sprinting intervals during cardio, and anything that helps you burn more calories in less time. Whilst your approach is great – activating core muscles while working out other muscle groups – remember that your abs still need time off too! If they’re been worked to the point where they feel sore the next day, give them a day’s rest to recover before training again. If you’re involving weights in your ab exercises and engaging your abs in all OTHER exercises, be aware of overworking abs. You want to train your muscles proportionately, so that they strengthen proportionately. Kettlebell classes, for example, can sometimes over-train the abs if that were all you were to practice on the fitness front. This could mean bigger abs than you’d like for the rest of your body.

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