The World's Best Crunch
For years, men built their abs with crunches. And while these exercises work well for increasing the size of your midsection muscles, they require you to round your lower back repeatedly. Unfortunately, this can contribute to lower back problems over time, as well as aggravate pre-existing damage.
But there's one kind of crunch that doesn't require you to round your lower back, and it's actually used to help prevent back pain. It's called the McGill Curlup. (The "McGill" is for Stuart McGill, Ph.D., who popularized the exercise and is widely recognized as the world's top spinal researcher.) While this exercise looks like a crunch, thankfully, it doesn't act like a crunch.
That's because the McGill Curlup forces you to work your entire abdominal muscle complex while keeping your lower back in its naturally arched position. The upshot: It minimizes stress on your spine while increasing the endurance of the muscles, which helps prevent and even relieve lower back pain. And yes, it builds your abs, too.
Ready to try it? Just use the instructions that follow. And for full-color photos and instructions of 600 more exercises, along with tons of workouts and useful fitness advice, check out musclemorphosis.com today. It's the most comprehensive collection of exercises ever created.
The McGill Curlup
Lie on your back on the floor with your left leg straight and flat on the floor. Your right knee should be bent and your right foot flat.
Place your hands palms down on the floor underneath the natural arch in your lower back. (Don't flatten your back.)
Slowly raise your head and shoulders off the floor without bending your lower back or spine, and hold this position for 7 to 8 seconds, breathing deeply the entire time. That's one repetition.
Do all your repetitions, then switch legs so that your right leg is straight and your left is bent.
Use This Move In Your Workout
Perform four to five repetitions, rest for 30 to 60 seconds, and repeat one to two more times. To make it even harder, raise your elbows off the floor as you curl up. And for an even greater challenge, start by contracting your abs, and then curl up against that force.