This exercise works the abdominal (the stomach muscles – .). It concentrates on the obliques (located at your sides – .) although it does work the whole stomach. The diagram shows where the work is concentrated (shaded in blue – .). This exercise will firm your stomach but will not necessarily make it flat. It all depends on how much body fat you have above the muscle. Treat the body as a whole and you will get the best results. That means a good all over body workout.
This technique is fairly similar to the crunch. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold your right hand on your stomach and with your left hand touch the outside of your right knee. Everybody’s proportions are different so make sure the left shoulder blade comes off the ground. Holding the hand on your stomach is good as it helps you concentrate on the muscles you need to use for the movement. The whole movement must come from your stomach and be completed in a slow controlled manner. Then do the same movement with your right hand touching the outside of your left knee and your left hand on your stomach.
Take Care of Your Neck
As with the crunch this exercise can start to cause neck-ache, so to help keep this at bay make sure you concentrate on a spot on the ceiling and let your head tilt back very slightly. Too much head movement will make the neck ache even more. The neck is just not used to holding the head in this position so feeling a slight ache should be normal. If it is hurting then just stop and rest, it will take time but the neck muscles will get stronger as well. The neck is delicate so be careful and if you are worried check it out with your doctor (better to be safe than sorry – .).
With this exercise you can do all the twists to one side first and then do the other. Alternatively you can do alternate twist crunches so left arm to right knee followed by right arm to left knee. Neither way is the best way so just vary it in your program (keep the body guessing – .). Don’t forget to breathe on this exercise. The best technique is to exhale on the contraction (on the way up – .) and breathe in on the way down.
If you watch the video guide you will see that the movement is fairly small. As I twist crunch up you can see I only go to the point where my shoulder blade is off the ground and that is it. The movement should be very slow and controlled. On the way down you will also note that I keep it very slow and controlled and this is important. Never just let yourself drop down because you can cause damage and exercise is all about control. You see, if you slow the movement on the way down you actually use the muscle, whereas if you just drop you don’t use the muscle nearly as much, if at all.
Keep the movement slow and controlled
Breathe (sounds silly but an easy mistake – .)
Only go as far as lifting your shoulder blade off the ground
Only use your stomach muscles to complete the movement
Don’t hold your breath
Don’t move too quickly (quality not quantity – .)
Don’t arch your back
Don’t just move your neck or move it too much
Don’t hold your head
Don’t go any further than getting your shoulder blades off the ground
Don’t swing you arms to help with the movement, just go as far and as long as your stomach will let you and try and improve the next time.
Different Levels – But Be Careful
On the video I have only included the one level for you which is the ‘Easy’ one. The Moderate level is made harder by bringing your arms up and holding your hands to your temples. Whatever you do, do not place your hands behind your head or hold your head in any way. This is bad technique because during the movement when the abs become tired it is natural for the body to cheat and in this instance it will cheat by the hands pulling on the head to help complete the movement. This can be really dangerous and put a lot of pressure through your neck; if you damage the neck the injury could be permanent. Please be safe and use correct technique. As a visual cue for the body aim your elbow to the opposite knee.
The Hard level is the most difficult because you move your arms above your head which puts more weight further up the body creating more work for the abs (a bigger lever – .). There are also no visual cues for this movement so your technique should be perfected by practising the easier ones before you even attempt this exercise. If you look at the first ab exercise “the crunch” and watch the video of the hard technique you will see a demonstration. Just apply this technique to your twist crunch. Don’t move to this level too early because although you may be able to complete the movement, you don’t want your back to arch up at full stretch.
Adding it to your Workout
Personally I would pick 4 to 6 different stomach exercise and complete 20 repetitions of each and do a total of 1 to 2 sets each. So that would be a total of 80 – 240 abdominal repetitions in total (Is that all? – .). May sound a lot to some and may sound like not much to others but remember it is quality and not quantity. People who are doing over 240 abdominal crunches are potentially just wasting time.
If you have any comments or questions please leave them on the link below I will be only too happy to help. Thank you.