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I watched this video the other day and thought it was pretty interesting. It talks about how crunches might be an exercise you should avoid doing too often because even though they will give you core strength it can harm other parts of your body. The hip flexors can be tightened along with a few other things, and most people already have tight hips from sitting all the time.

What do you guys think? Are they worth doing at least every once in a while maybe?
 

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Soop for the Soul
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crunches are far from the best exercise for core strength and they are horrible for your back. You want ab strength do front squats and weighted planks. If you want hanging leg raises as well. You don't need crunches.
 

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crunches are far from the best exercise for core strength and they are horrible for your back. You want ab strength do front squats and weighted planks. If you want hanging leg raises as well. You don't need crunches.
How do you do a weighted plank??

I love the Plank, adding weights would surely make it more effective.
 

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MOTM Dec 2011
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Mat pilates seems formed around core strength with crunch-like exercises.... I thought it was to help people rehabilitate physically, but maybe that's the reformer style (or both?). Anyhow, it focuses on form a LOT more than most, uh, meathead routines :p , and I think that's a big key to not getting back and neck pain. In pilates classes, you spend half the time just learning to sit up right and then roll back down, then sit up again, etc. You learn how to place your spine, tilt up, etc. You get visualizations to help you learn, ie "imagine holding a bowl of water on your lower abdomen...".

In a strength-training session I do now, there are quite a few mat core exercises, and I noticed people don't watch their form much. They seem to think speed is most important...I have noticed more benefits in my body from doing these, but I also apply my pilates experience.

Yoga (ie the typical gym kind) seems to focus more on the lower body than pilates...you aren't on the mat doing core stuff so much, although a lot of exercises use core (such as plank or anything which requires balance). You definitely stretch those hips out though. Happy Baby, Pigeon, Lizard and many other poses are just the best for stretching hips.

I like both for that reason.... the pilates for good form in core exercises and yoga for stretching.

I spend like 15 minutes every night or so just stretching my hips & thighs because my knees begin to bother me otherwise. The trend right now is to not stretch before working out (because it lessens your strength or something), but I find it a must to prevent injury (especially knee pain for me). I always stretch a little before a workout (mainly my hips/thighs), with people giving looks because they think it's "bad" now.

But the core strengthening has helped too, as you end up using your abs more than your back or neck in everyday activities. Obviously there are many ways to strengthen the core, but I don't think crunch-style exercises a la mat pilates should be totally avoided, if done with proper form. <--- That's the point of this long-winded post.
 
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People do crunches? The last time that was relevant was in school PE class. Maybe educators figured crunches were simple enough for the stupid kids to do without destroying themselves.

Apparently the only remedy to tight hip flexors is a standing desk or to a less effective degree, using an exercise ball instead of a chair. You can't out-stretch constant sitting. Certainly not crunches on top of that.
 

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Soop for the Soul
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How do you do a weighted plank??

I love the Plank, adding weights would surely make it more effective.
Put a plate on your back, just a 25 lb plate will do at first and its pretty easy to learn how to put it on. Or if you are not comfortable with that ask someone in the gym to place it on there for you.
 
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