ANNOUNCER: Abdominal crunches can help keep your core muscles strong and your back pain free. But do you know the right way to do them? Take a look at these two versions. Fitness expert Jonathan Cane explains why B gives you a better workout.
JONATHAN CANE, EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGIST: By slowing the movement down and eliminating the momentum and eliminating all the flailing of the arms, it's making the exercise harder to do and focusing all the energy on the muscles.
ANNOUNCER: Here's how to get the most out of your abdominal crunches.
JONATHAN CANE, EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGIST: The first thing we're going to do is eliminate the space between his lower back and the floor. That's protecting his lower back and that's always going to be the starting point for any abdominal exercise. He's going to slow everything down, he's going to keep the elbows nice and wide, keep space, thinking as if he has a tennis ball between his chin and his chest and he's going to come up a little bit higher than he was doing, all in a slow, controlled movement. Three seconds up, pausing at the top, three seconds down and, again, you see the elbows stay nice and wide, space between the chin and the chest and we've got daylight under his shoulder blades at the top of the range of motion.
ANNOUNCER: Cane also says proper form is more important than numbers of reps.
JONATHAN CANE, EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGIST: When you hear people talking about doing two or three hundred crunches a day, that's usually what they're doing. They're getting real strong muscles for nodding their head or something, but they're not really doing much to get strong abdominal muscles. Even if you have to sort of put your ego in check in terms of the numbers coming down, at least, you know, your ego does ultimately get the benefit of , okay, I'm getting stronger, not I'm getting better at cheating.
ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily