What’s more effective in building core muscle and flattening the abdomen— sit-ups or crunches? A big part of the answer to this question depends on who you are and what you need. Male or female? How old? What’s your body fat index? What’s your daily physical routine? Have you ever been physically injured? Are you normally lean or do you struggle with maintaining your weight? Does your body tend to respond well to strength-training or does it whine and cuss when asked to perform feats of strength and endurance?
It’s clear that you want to build belly muscle, but why? Are you a bodybuilder seeking to build an abdomen that Grandma could have scrubbed out her tea towels on? Are you trying (and quite wisely we might say) to strengthen your back and reduce the risk of pain and injury by strengthening your stomach muscles? Or do you just want to improve your physique and develop total body fitness without wasting a lot of your precious time?
Working out abdominal muscles is also called “strengthening the core.” Whereas building the strength of your midriff is great for improving your looks, your posture, and helping you avoid back problems later in life, if your goal is overall fitness and ease of movement, it’s just not a top priority. It’s as if the midriff has its own reasons.
So let’s indulge the midriff a little and answer today’s question: Which exercise works best?
Let’s look at sit-ups first. By definition the sit-up is an exercise done lying on your back, knees bent (not required but it does work better this way), lifting your torso, and returning to the floor again without using your arms to pull or push yourself up. Your repeat this exercise for a prescribed number of repetitions in a prescribed number of sets.
The sit-up works abdominal muscles, but more of your body is involved than in crunches. If you hook your feet under something you can end up using muscles from your lower legs all the way up to your neck. This can be good or bad depending on your physical conditon. Those with neck, back, or hip problems may find it they’re pushing their luck by doing sit-ups.
The metabolic nature of muscle cells allows them to burn calories even when we’re at rest, so building muscle all over the body is always a great plan. Building all muscle groups also improves your energy level, balance, and posture, giving you a better appearance even if (sorry!) the sit-up itself, hard and uncomfortable as it may be, doesn’t really burn much fat.
The crunch is similar to the sit-up— you also lie on your back with your legs bent at the knees. Your feet are shoulder-width apart and your hands can be resting at your sides on the floor, folded on your chest, or touching your ears. Instead of raising your whole torso, just raise your head and shoulders until you feel the contraction in your stomach muscles. Try to make your stomach muscles do the lifting work. Breathe in as you lower yourself down and breathe out as you lift yourself again. Repeat.
Crunches are just for the belly muscles, and if all you care about is your belly for now, crunches are every bit as effective as sit-ups.
Crunches, how ever, don’t burn fat, and getting rid of the fat is the key to seeing those ripping muscles.
This is why your stomach is still a sand dune instead of the smooth beach you’re longing for. If you did sit-ups and/or crunches regularly, you’re certain to have built up muscle strength and all the benefits that go with it.
Also see: Variations to the basic crunch
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