I’m a 25-year-old male with a bad back, so I have problems doing crunches properly. The doctor said I should stop exercising for a while, which I have. I now want that washboard look! I know I have to work at it, but what should I do?
I understand that you want a washboard stomach after following the doctor’s advice to rest it for awhile, but I would recommend that you first check with your doctor again, just to be sure that you have waited long enough and that you are able to exercise again safely.
The most effective way to work your abdominal muscles is the curl, or crunch. But you need to do them properly for maximum benefit. The idea that you can reduce fat in targeted areas or lose your love handles by doing crunches is a myth. You need a complete diet and exercise program to contribute to overall fat reduction.
To execute curls, start by lying face-up, with your knees bent at right angles and your heels about 18 inches from your buttocks. Keep your hands behind your head to support your neck, open your elbows wide, and keep your chin about an apple’s width away from your chest. Then lift your shoulders up from the floor, tightening your abs so your ribs are pulled toward your hips. Make sure that your lower back is pressed toward the floor as you exhale, and raise only the chest, shoulders, and head off the floor while tensing and flexing your abdominals.
Hold the curl for a two-count beat at the peak of your contraction, then slowly lower yourself down. Each time you do a repetition, you need to work in a very slow and controlled manner. Think smooth: Do not jerk yourself upwards. Begin by doing three sets of 12 to 16 repetitions per set, and gradually progress to three sets of 24 to 36 repetitions per set. If you get tired, it would be better to stop early than to use improper form.