The truth is that situps are not the most exciting exercise, and sometimes they are not the most effective, either. So it’s time to throw away your old situp workout and embrace a more enjoyable way of building a sculpted core. Most workouts focus solely on building the “six pack,” but in truth, abs can only be achieved by working the whole core. So this four-week crunch-free challenge is going to work the 360 degrees of muscle that is your core.
The core of the body is actually made up of a number of muscles, including the lower abs, upper abs, obliques and lower back. Each muscle complements the other, and that’s why you can’t just work for the front six pack. For example, if you only work your front, then your lower back becomes weak, leading to lower-back pain. According to Spine Universe, the cause of most people’s upper- and lower-back pain is weak abs. So all these muscles combined are fundamental to the body’s strength and power.
Here are the top three exercises that work your whole core to help you achieve a sculpted midsection. These exercises were recommended by Oxygen Magazine to help you build abs at home. So let’s take a look at the three fundamental exercises that you will be performing over the next four weeks during your challenge.
1. Reverse Crunch
Start by lying on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your ears. Then slowly bring your knees in toward your chest and at the same time lift your shoulders and upper back off the ground. Return to your original position.
2. Crossover Crunch With Reach
Start by lying on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the ground. Lift your upper back off the ground and curl your torso to the right, extending your arms by reaching across your body to your right foot. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Set yourself up in a plank position with your hands clasped together, elbows on the ground and feet tucked under. Remember to align your elbows beneath your shoulders and keep your body straight and parallel to the ground. Then simply contract your ab muscles and hold this position.
Now it’s time to start the challenge!
Day 1 – Reverse crunch: 10 reps / 3 sets
Day 2 – Crossover with reach: 10 reps / 3 sets
Day 3 – Plank: 15 secs / 3 sets
Day 4 – Reverse crunch: 10 reps / 3 sets
Day 5 – Crossover with reach: 10 reps / 3 sets
Day 6 – Plank: 15 secs / 3 sets
Day 7 – Rest
Day 8 – Reverse crunch: 15 reps / 3 sets
Day 9 – Crossover with reach: 15 reps / 3 sets
Day 10 – Plank: 25 secs / 3 sets
Day 11 – Reverse crunch: 20 reps / 3 sets
Day 12 – Crossover with reach: 20 reps / 3 sets
Day 13 – Plank: 30 secs / 3 sets
Day 14 – Rest
Day 15 – Reverse crunch: 25 reps / 3 sets
Day 16 – Crossover with reach: 25 reps / 3 sets
Day 17 – Plank: 35 secs / 3 sets
Day 18 – Reverse crunch: 30 reps / 3 sets
Day 19 – Crossover with reach: 30 reps / 3 sets
Day 20 – Plank: 40 secs / 3 sets
Day 21 – Rest
Day 22 – Reverse crunch: 45 reps / 3 sets
Day 23 – Crossover with reach: 45 reps / 3 sets
Day 24 – Plank: 50 secs / 3 sets
Day 25 – Rest
Day 26 – Reverse crunch: 50 reps / 3 sets
Day 27 – Crossover with reach: 50 reps / 3 sets
Day 28 – Plank: 1 min / 3 sets
By day 28, you will be able to perform 50 reps in a row of reverse crunches and crossovers plus a 1 minute plank! This will say a lot about your level of strength and endurance.
Why is it important to exercise the core muscles?
The core muscles are what hold the body together. Without a strong core, the rest of the body is weak and unbalanced. Here are three of the most common symptoms of a weak core:
Lower Back Pain. When the core muscles are weak, the curves of the lumbar spine shift, causing unwanted pressure on the discs, vertebrae or facets of the spine. A weak core also impacts the muscles, ligaments and tendons that support the spine, making you more susceptible to pain and injury.
Bad Posture. Poor posture can be a sign of weak core muscles because the core helps your shoulders and back hold a neutral position by stabilizing the spine and pelvis. If your core does not have the strength to keep your upper body neutral, then you are more likely to slouch. Slouching can lead to numerous other health problems, such as neck and shoulder pain.
Overall Weakness. Not only are the core muscles used to do ab exercises, they also help the body transfer strength when it is needed. For example, throwing a ball, bike riding or kicking a boxing bag. In all these movements, the core is engaged to transfer force into the upper or lower body to create one powerful movement. So if you find that you have weakness in your movements, then it could originate at your core.
So make sure that you are building a strong core, not just strong abs. The body cannot function at 100 percent with a weak core. So have fun doing this four-week challenge and strengthening your core!