Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Hate Crunches (But I Love Jane Fonda)

...I also hate my abs. I've never had a six-pack and usually I only get a flat stomach from dieting. And lately I've just been in a "burn calories" mode, instead of working to tone my body.

But I'm sitting here and looking down at my laptop... and my stomach... and thinking "..Yikes..."

I just took a picture of my stomach from the side (to see what others see). I will not be posting that photo. Yes, it is normal for stomachs to bulge a little when relaxed and slouching... But mine is a little too relaxed... My shoulder and neck muscles are jealous of my stomach muscles. It's like my stomach muscles went on a Caribbean vacation and spent 3 months in a relaxation spa. Ew.

So, against the wishes of my lethargic lil' belly, I looked up some fabulous ab exercises. I then repeated the mantra of The Little Engine That Could and tried them. It was rough. I am in pain. But my slacker abs are beginning to feel remorse for chillaxin all day.

Here's what I did:

Bicycle Crunches
(Lie flat on the floor and press your lower back into the floor. Put your hands behind your head and raise it slightly while clenching your abdominal muscles. Bring your knees up to a 45 degree angle and move your legs as if you were on a bicycle. Touch your right elbow to your left knee and then your left elbow to your right knee. Repeat until your abs cry "Uncle".)

His abs have NOT been on vacation...
Reverse Crunches
(Lie flat on the floor and place your hands on the floor beside you or behind your head. Bring your knees in towards your chest, bent at a 90 degree angle. Keep your feet together or crossed at the ankle. Contract your abs and curl your hips off the floor and reach the legs upwards. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat...)

  • See? You can even do it while balancing on a diving board...
    And then there's always Jane... I don't know whether it's her encouraging voice, the awesome music, or her leg-warmers... But I love this video (and I can definitely feel the burn!)


    1. OMG Lark, that video brings back such memories! I had it for like, 25 years! I still know it by heart. I remember that girl who sang the song too. I'm a yoga teacher, and a strong core is key to strong yoga poses, but we approach it differently - almost never doing crunches. Try this: on hands and knees, extend right leg behind you and lift to hip height, making sure to keep hips level. When steady, exend left arm out straight (so left leg extended behind, right arm in front). Lift up with core, using it to stay balanced and stable - for as many breaths as you can. Then switch. Simple and amazingly effective! And I have more!

    2. Melissa - I know the song by heart, too! My mom had this video when I was growing up and I LOOVED doing it!

      I agree - crunches can be good if done correctly, but there are definitely other (and often better) ways to strengthen the core. I went to yoga yesterday and we did a move similar to what you are describing! I'll have to try your move when I get home.

    3. Yes, the thing about core exercises is you have to balance that crunching thing with moves that extend. My own yoga teacher explained it to me - if you do all crunches, you are tightening and shortening, so you want to offset with exercises that do the opposite. Makes sense!

    4. that jane fonda video is my secret. well, my secret for when my abs AREN'T on vaca.