Are Sit-ups still effective? Nope… there’s a better way.
According to physicians at Harvard Medical School, you should be practicing planks more often. Simply hold yourself on your hands and toes in a pre-push-up position and feel the burn.
Unlike crunches, which target only your abdominal muscles, planks utilize several groups of muscles along throughout your core including your sides, front, and back. And if you want a strong core that gives you definition across your abs, you’ll need to stress all of these muscles, according to a Harvard Medical School health report titled “Core Exercises.”
According to Harvard’s Healthbeat newsletter, which summarizes the report’s takeaways, “Sit-ups or crunches strengthen just a few muscle groups… Through dynamic patterns of movement, a good core workout helps strengthen the entire set of core muscles you use every day.” Said another way, core workouts that include planks will work more than just a few stomach muscles, but the whole abdominal area.
Why planks are superior for core strength
Sit-ups are a good basic move to help tone your abdominal muscles but planks are less likely to cause injury and are simply better for building a strong core.
When you lie down to do a sit-up, your back gets pushed against the floor. When you pull your body up into a crunch, you’re also putting strain on a group of muscles called the hip flexors. When they get tight, they can yank on your lower spine, causing pain in your lower back. And just like crunches, planks don’t require a single piece of equipment, meaning you can do them virtually anywhere.
Here’s how to plank properly
Start out by lying face-down with your legs extended and your elbows bent, directly under your shoulders, with your hands clasped. Make sure your feet are hip-width apart while your elbows are shoulder-width apart. Tighten your abs and tuck your toes to elevate your body, keeping your forearms on the ground. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels. To start, hold for one minute.
As you get stronger, you can gradually build up to maintain the position for longer periods of time. For even more of a challenge, hold yourself on your palms rather than your forearms. The more you practice, the longer you’ll be able to hold this position. Most importantly, you’ll be building a strong core, evident by a well defined six-pack.
Before beginning any exercise program, please discuss your options with the Doctors at Washington Wellness Center. You can reach us at 609-426-1700 or online at www.washingtonwellnesscenter.