As with all things, there is a right way to go about working for a flatter midsection, and several wrong ways. Working out the wrong way can lead to no physical improvement or worse, serious injury. When doing stomach exercises or any other exercise, be sure to consult a professional, warm up properly, and remember the following tips.
Keep Your Knees Up
When doing crunches, you want your knees to bent and your feet flat on the floor so that your knees are centered and pointed upward. Keep them centered and up, not to one side. If you drop your knees to one side, you are unnecessarily compressing your vertebrae, which can lead to a painful back injury.
Traditional sit-ups actually do very little for the abdominal muscles. Even when done properly, the strain is mostly on the hip muscles. There is also the tendency to pull the torso up with the arms, which of course is not the point of the exercise. Further, when sit-ups are done very quickly, as people have a tendency to do, it is momentum that mostly forces the torso up and down, rather than any muscle groups. The crunch is a good alternative to old school sit-ups.
Straight Leg Lift
Another traditional “stomach exercise,” this move actually works the lower back more than any muscles in the midsection. This is also another way to put strain on your back, possibly leading to injury.
Too Many Reps
There is never a need to do more fifty reps of a stomach exercise. If fifty reps is not giving you results, doing more than that will not help wither. As you build strength, if you feel the need for a bigger challenge, try a more difficult exercise as an alternative to adding reps.
Believe it or not, how you sleep has an effect on your stomach exercise routine. If you sleep in a position that cause back pain, it will make it much more difficult to work on your midsection in the morning. Sleeping mostly on your stomach is one of the best ways to cause back pain, as it forces your back to arch, often resulting in annoying back pain. The best way to avoid this is to sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. This will help keep your vertebrae in line, prevent back pain and allowing you work out pain free in the morning.
All stomach exercises need resistance to be effective, whether it comes from a resistance band, an exercise ball, or just gravity. Exercises that do not use any resistance, such as standing broomstick twists, will not be beneficial to your midsection. The good news is that this particular exercise will not do any harm and is actually a good warm up for your trunk. Just do not expect it to flatten out your stomach.
Proper exercise technique is important. These are just a few tips to help you avoid wasting time and potential injury. Be sure to research thoroughly before beginning a new exercise, and always consult your physician before beginning any physical fitness routine.