Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Feeling Crunchy {Tuesday Tips}

Since my running is getting off to a very slow start, and I'm not yet ready to get back in the pool, I'm looking for other ways to get myself moving and getting fit. The stair climbing challenge is helping me battle my laziness and is giving my legs a great workout! Now I need something to help with my upper body and my core.

I've seen some mentions on message boards about various sit up and push up challenges, and decided to give those a shot. I'm going to start out with just one of each, and add one more each day until I build up to a specific number. I think the goals will be 200 sit ups and 100 push ups daily, because a lot of challenges have those numbers as their goals. Actually, I might increase my sit ups by 2 each day, so I can arrive at both goals at the same time. I hope that won't be too difficult to keep track of -- I'll have to write it on a calendar or something.

The reason I'm posting this in "Tuesday Tips" is that I'm curious how people do sit ups these days. As I recall, over the years, various "experts" have taught different ways to do them, because some ways are not as good for your back or your neck, and some are more effective than others, etc. And for a while there, wasn't everyone calling them crunches instead of sit ups? Or are those two distinct moves? The last time I was doing crunches regularly, I was doing them on an exercise ball, which was challenging but not painful. I liked that method and will probably try that again, unless I learn a good reason to do something different.

How do you do sit ups or crunches, and why? Is there a "right" way to do them, or is it a matter of preference? Thanks for your insight!


  1. Crunches and sit ups are two different exercise. A sit up is a fuller range of motion and usually involves having your feet fixed and your knees bent and then sitting up as far as you can, bringing your chest (or your arms folded across your chest) up to meet your thighs if at all possible. A crunch is usually a shorter range of motion and can be performed a variety of ways, but is mainly different from a sit up in that your lower back does not leave the floor. You can perform crunches from the same position as a sit up or you can keep your knees bent at right angles and raise your feet off the ground so your thighs are perpendicular and your calves are parallel to the floor. You can touch your hands to the side of your head and "crunch" your elbows up to your knees. To avoid neck injury, do not use your hands to pull yourself up by the back of your head. (Same goes for sit ups.) When doing crunches, and other variations of ab exercises, you generally want to keep your lower back as flat on the ground as possible and imagine using your core muscles to pull your belly button into your spine. At least that's what my trainer says.

  2. At crossfit we do situps with our legs butterfly style (knees out) so we use only our core muscles. I'm sure you can find a you tube video if you look for crossfit situp. Good luck and keep it up!

  3. So funny that you mention this - I was at a physical therapy seminar last night and when the topic about core strength came up, he said that crunches should be avoided b/c you put a lot of stress on your back and neck especially if you're pulling your neck with your hands. He said the more effective and preferred core exercise is the plank - it works your stomach, back, arms/shoulders, and legs. More of a total body exercise with minimal strain since you're just holding the position and it keeps your spine in line (have to use your abs to keep your back/hips in a straight line). I think they're much more challenging than crunches!

  4. If you get into the habit of getting your core workout in whenever your baby is napping, you’ll soon see drastic results. Here are three exercises you can do during that nap time that will supercharge your day and leave you feeling and looking your best.

  5. Thanks for all the feedback! Between here and Facebook, I've gotten some great info...almost too much to process right now! LOL The sit up and push up challenges that I read about online appealed to me because they're simple, and they start small and build very slowly. I don't want to launch into a whole core workout regimen right now because I think it might draw too much mental focus from everything else I'm trying to get going. So for now, I think I'm going to do crunches on my exercise ball the way I used to, and count those as "sit ups" for the purpose of my challenge. Meanwhile, I'll take my time looking into the tips y'all have given me. At some point in the future, when I reach my "sit up" challenge goal or get bored with crunches, I'll try out something different, and it will probably be one of your suggestions. I will definitely write a follow-up post to let you know what I'm doing! Thanks again!