“I have a friend who brags about being able to do a thousand crunches every day. Is that a good thing to aim for? — Ben S., Kickapoo, KS
If your goal is to develop a six-pack or increase core strength, there are more effective uses of your time,” says Jared Beckstrand, D.P.T., owner of Tone and Tighten in Farmingham, UT.
Our take-no-prisoners training director Sean Hyson puts it even more succinctly: “No, it’s ridiculous and way more work than you need.”
How so? “Creating core strength is like building a room with four walls,” says Beckstrand. “You want all those walls to be as strong as possible so you have a solid, well-built room. It’s the same with the core muscles of the belly, sides, and lower back. Focusing only on making the front—your abs—very strong will ultimately leave you with a very weak core.”
So don’t forget about your obliques, Beckstrand says (he recommends side planks and Russian twists for those) and lower rectus (try hanging leg raises and scissor/flutter kicks).
Also, Hyson adds, “that many crunches could injure your back over time.” Lucky for you, we’ve created the Better Abs Workout Program to strengthen your entire core without doing yourself any damage.
Finally: “Not for nothing,” Hyson says, “but it sounds like your friend has way too much time on his hands there in Kickapoo, Kansas. Yes, it’s important to have abs, but it’s even more important to have a life.”