As difficult as it may be to believe, summer is soon approaching. And when the sun finally decides to hang around longer than Donald Trump in a presidential race, beachgoers across the region will look to show off those newly shaped washboard abs — and the work that went into shaping them.
But like a long summertime drive to the Hamptons, reaching that destination can be fraught with peril. The next time someone tells you the secret to a hard tummy is through doing crunches and sit-ups, back away.
According to a recent study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine — and echoed by back experts such as Dr. Stuart McGill, a renowned professor of spine biomechanics in Canada — crunches and sit-ups are more likely to do more harm to your back than good to your front.
“More crunches will not give you a better six-pack, but will give you a bad back,” said Boston-area trainer Steve Bergeron. “Most people lack the proper internal hip mechanics to perform a proper crunch in the first place. Crunches further exacerbate this problem, leading to low back pain and other spinal damage.”
Bergeron said exercises that stabilize the core, like planks, squats, pull-ups and clean and press exercises, are safer and more effective.
“Performed properly, they will work your core harder than a crunch,” Bergeron said.
But perhaps the best stomach exercise involves what you put in it.
“The best way to lose body fat are table push-aways,” Bergeron said. “If you can’t train your diet then all the core exercises in the world will not help one bit.”