If you think that sit-ups are the quickest way to get a six-pack, Harvard Medical School doctors have news for you: this classic exercise is not as effective as you think.
They recommend using “planks” instead of “belly presses”, also called forearm support. In a plank position, you support yourself with your hands and feet on the ground, as if you were about to do a push-up. More details on the research can be found in the Harvard Medical School Health Report called “Core Exercises . “
In contrast to sit-ups that only stress your abdominal muscles, planks not only train abdominal but also back muscles. If you want to train your core (stabilizing the middle of the body) – especially the muscles that give you a six-pack – you need to use all those muscles.
“Sit-ups or crunches take up only a few muscle groups,” write the authors of the ” Harvard Healthbeat” newsletter, which summarizes the main findings. “Dynamic movement patterns help a good core workout to train all the muscles you use every day.”
In addition, ordinary crunches can partially overstress your body, including your back pressed against the floor. And when you move your body up into the sit-up position, certain back muscles work, the so-called hip flexors. If these are overstressed, they can cause pain in the lower spine.
Are you ready to try Planks?
In the next step, you should tense your abs and put on your toes to hook and lift your body. Keep your forearms on the ground. From head to toe your body has to be a straight line. Hold this position for one minute.
You can increase the duration the longer you train. At some point you should no longer lean on your forearms, but on your hand.