I have Mr. Joseph Pilates to thank for many things in my life. One of those things is his amazing Abdominal Series! You don’t know abdominal burn until you do this series. It’s effective and efficient and hits all the right core muscles while getting your heart rate up. As a physical therapist, I truly believe it’s more effective than 100 crunches done fast on the gym ball because you are using controlled movement and hitting all the major abdominal muscles (while getting some pretty good leg work as well 😀).
The major thing you will want to watch for during this is neck strain. If you are feeling that, usually it means you aren’t high enough in your crunch. That’s right! It doesn’t always mean a weak neck – it actually means fatigued or weak abdominal muscles. If your abdominal muscles get tired, your crunch lowers and you end up holding only your head up. You are now doing a neck sit-up instead of an ab sit-up! This equals the dreaded neck strain. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you feel your neck I want you to crunch HIGHER so you are using your abdominal muscles to stay up and not your neck muscles. If your abs are just done and you can’t crunch higher, then just lower your head and do this with your head on the mat. Over time you will be able to hold it up higher for longer periods of time! (Some people might try putting their hands behind their heads, but that actually makes this particular series harder for your abs! I would recommend doing what you can in a crunch with shoulder blades off the mat, then resting your head when your abs fatigue).
I have a tutorial about how to do crunches without neck pain and you can find it here.
Take two minutes to try this series and let me know what you think!