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8 Ways to Get Stronger Abs

By
Ben Greenfield,

8 Ways to Get Stronger Abs

Though crunches are not the ideal way for athletes to develop a strong "core," they are good for adding a bit of extra tone to the midsection, or for targeting the abdominals without involving the rest of the body. But body weight crunches can get pretty easy, pretty fast. So here are 8 ways to make crunches harder (and to get stronger abs, in the process!)

  1. Hold a weight or medicine ball out at arm's length. Be sure to think about "pushing" the weight towards the sky as you do the crunch.

  2. Hold the crunch at the top of the motion. Twist 3 times to each side, then return to the starting position (that's one repetition).

  3. Press the lower back down as hard as possible when you perform your crunch. This will ensure that you maximize deep abdominal muscle recruitment.

  4. Use a stability ball. Doing a crunch on a ball makes your back pre-stretch at the start of the movement, which makes it harder to start the crunch. For added difficulty, hold a weight, cable, or elastic tubing behind your head for resistance.

  5. Use an decline bench. These benches at the gym lock you into a position that makes you work against gravity to do your crunch. To make a decline bench crunch even more difficult, use tip #1 or #2 as you perform the movement.

  6. Pre-fatigue. A favorite workout of mine is to run on a treadmill as hard as possible for 30 seconds, then to jump off and do 15-25 repetitions of an abdominal exercise, such as a crunch. When you're breathing hard, crunches get tough.

  7. Stand up explosively after each crunch. As you can imagine, this advanced version of a crunch is very physically demanding and requires you to sit up with a high amount of force while jumping into a standing position. It's not for the faint of heart, but can be a challenging way to finish a workout!
     

    Abs image courtesy of Shutterstock

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