It is useful, therefore, to describe in detail the processes involved in actually doing these exercises. This will help beginners to start out using the correct techniques before moving on to potentially more dangerous heavy weights. If it also helps more experienced lifters to redress some of the little faults that have almost imperceptibly crept in over the years, all the better.
In this article we’ll take a close look at the crunch.
MUSCLES TARGETED: rectus abdominis
Assume a supine position on the floor.
Place the calves and ankles on a bench with the hips and knees flexed to roughly 90 degrees.
Fold the arms across the chest.
Flex the neck to move the chin to the chest.
Curl the torso toward the thighs until ONLY the upper back is off the mat.
Allow the torso to uncurl, then the neck to extend back to the starting position.
Repeat or finish set.
The abdomen contains the muscles that most beginners struggle with because they take a long time to develop and need a low level of body fat to be seen. The abdominal muscle group consists of three main muscles:
1. Rectus abdominis – commonly known as the abs, this is a large flat muscle wall that runs from the lower chest to the pubic bone.
2. Obliquus abdominis – commonly known as the obliques, this muscle runs diagonally along the side of the mid-section from the lower ribcage to the pubic area. The internal obliques lie underneath the external obliques.
3. Transversus abdominis – this is a thin strip of muscle that runs horizontally across the abdomen.
You can target these muscles effectively by performing the following exercises:
1. Crunches – 3 sets of 15-20 reps. This exercise will work the upper abs.
2. Pelvic tilts – 3 sets of 15-20 reps.This exercise will target the lower portion of the abdomen below the navel.
3. Side bends – 3 sets of 15-20 reps. This exercise will work the obliques.
As with all exercises you need to take care in scheduling specific body parts. To begin with you should incorporate your abdominal exercises into a program similar to the one suggested below:
Day 1: Biceps, Back, Contour Abs
Day 2: Hamstrings, Shoulders, Abs
Day 3: Quads, Forearms, Calves
Day 4: Triceps, Chest, Abs
For the first couple of weeks complete one set but then add one set each week to a maximum of three. At the end of three months you will be ready to move on to more intensive intermediate level exercises.
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