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Six-pack exercises: Harvard experts recommend underestimated training

ShutterstockIf you think sit-ups are the quickest way to get a six-pack, the doctors at Harvard Medical School have news for you: this classic exercise is not as effective as you think.

They recommend doing “planks” instead of abdominal presses, also called forearm supports. In a plank position, you support yourself with hands and feet on the floor, as if you were about to do a push-up. You can find more details about the research in the Harvard Medical School health report called “Core Exercises”.

In contrast to sit-ups, which only use your abdominal muscles, planks train not only abdominal muscles but also back muscles. If you want to train your core (the stabilization of the middle of the body) – especially the muscles that give you a six-pack – you have to use all these muscles.

“Sit-ups or crunches only require a few muscle groups,” write the authors of the “Harvard Healthbeat” newsletter, which summarizes the most important results. “With dynamic movement patterns, good core training helps you train all the muscles you use every day.”

plank woman fitness gym exercise workoutShutterstock
plank woman fitness gym exercise workout

Ordinary crunches can also partially overuse your body, including your back, which is pressed against the floor. And when you move your body into the sit-up position, certain back muscles, the so-called hip flexors, work. If overworked, they can cause pain in the lower spine.

Are you ready to try planks?

At it is recommended to start lying face down on the floor, with your legs stretched out and your elbows bent, your hands clasped. Your feet should be a hip apart.

In the next step, you should contract your abdominal muscles and tighten your toes to contract and lift your body. Keep your forearms on the floor. Your body must be a straight line from head to toe. Hold this position for a minute.

You can increase the duration the longer you train. At some point you should no longer support yourself on your forearms, but on your hands (as in the photo). I wish you success!

This article was published by in July 2019. It has now been checked and updated again.


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