Get off the floor and stop doing crunches

99% of the people you see in the gym at some point do crunches, planks…any sort of ab exercise during their workout.

But only about half of those people ever do some of the BEST exercises for their abs and for that matter their entire bodies (and these exercises AREN’T crunches!)

They are four awesome exercises called the pull up, push up, back squat and deadlift. And to be honest, they are really all you need to have great arms, chest, back, abs, butt, quads, hamstrings and even calves!

So why are you wasting time on crunches? Actually, why are wasting time on a lot of those silly single muscle group movements!?! I mean seriously…those exercises only help the top 1% not the average Jane/Joe.

If you think you don’t have enough time to workout, you should stop wasting it by doing crunches and single muscle group movements and start doing these four exercises!!!

Pull ups:

Let’s face it…we know these are a great exercise because no one ever wants to do them! When no one wants to do an exercise, it generally means it is hard.

Just look at all the muscles used:

  • Lats
  • Lower sternal fibers of the pec major
  • Posterior deltoid
  • Teres major muscles
  • Lower traps
  • Pec minor
  • Levator scapulae
  • Rhomboid
  • Serratus anterior
  • Bicep
  • Rectus abdominis
  • Erector spinae
  • Transverse abdominis
  • Obliques

All of these muscles are used some more or less depending on which pull up variation you perform. (And if you need to make all of those muscles work harder just hang some weight around your waist or perform repetitions till failure!)

Grip can effect which muscles are used more during the movement. Chin ups and narrow grip pull ups are usually the easiest and engage the most bicep while wider grip pull ups isolate the lats more. For example, with a chin up the biceps brachii are used the most but with a prone or pull up grip the brachialis and brachioradialis (muscles that are part of the bicep) are used more than the biceps brachii.

Even the positioning of your lower half can alter which core muscles are doing more work. Ideally you want a straight position though so you are fully engaging every muscle in your core!

And there are no excuses for not doing pull ups. There is always a pull up assist machine around OR a band you can use to help pull you up. Heck even start with jumping pull ups! There is no excuse to skip these! There is a variation for all fitness levels!

Push Ups:

Again, rarely are women doing push ups in the gym and neither are men actually…Men usually prefer the more illustrious bench press…But push ups are AMAZING! AND there are a bazillion variations of push ups so they will never ever be too easy!

If you need proof of how amazing, here is a list of all the muscles worked:

  • Deltoids (anterior, posterior and medial)
  • Triceps
  • Pecs (both major and minor)
  • Rhomboids
  • Erector spinae
  • Rotator cuff
  • Serratus anterior
  • Rectus abdominus (ABS!!!)
  • Transverse abdominus (Oh and abs again!?!)
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Quadriceps

You may be thinking, “What?! Push ups work your legs too!?!” YES THEY DO!!!

Your glutes and quads aren’t primary muscle groups in the movement, but they do assist if you do push ups from your toes. They keep your body in a nice straight line!

And like the pull up there are variations that work the muscle groups listed in different ways. There is the narrow push up, which engages more tricep and shoulder (also known as the chaturanga or even the diamond push up) and there is the wide grip push up, which isolates the chest more. There is also the decline push up where you elevate your feet, which not only makes the push up harder but also works your pec major more. AND if you put your hands on unbalanced or uneven surfaces you can work your core more!

I mean there are just a bazillion push up varieties so you will never get bored. AND beginners can’t claim push ups are too advanced! Push ups from the knees are a great modification as well as incline push ups. You can even start by doing push ups by leaning against a wall! There is no excuse why anyone can’t do an incline push up against the wall! 😉

Back Squat:

Ok I love legs so I really love this move. And not only does this move work the biggest muscle group in your body but it also really works your core! (And if you want a great butt….SQUAT!)

A quote from “Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training” stating just my point!

Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength and sizeof the legs and buttocks, as well as developing core strength. Isometrically, the lower back, the upper back, the abdominals, the trunk muscles, the costal muscles, and the shoulders and arms are all essential to the exercise and thus are trained when squatting with proper form.

So the muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Transverse Abdominus (abs!!!)
  • Erector Spinae
  • Abductors
  • Adductors
  • Soleus (calves)
  • Gastrocnemius (calves)

So one thing I haven’t mentioned with the two previous exercises (which is also true for them), but all of these strengthen your lower back, which so many people neglect while doing all of their crunches! And trust me, your back is as much a part of your core as your abs are even if it isn’t something you notice while wearing a bikini.

And there are also a bazillion variations of the squat. I personally have picked the back squat here to highlight because it is the most basic and you can add a ton of weight to it to make it challenging (I like heavy weights!).

Deadlift:

MY FAVORITE EXERCISE EVER!!!

Maybe I love it because it works like everything!! It works everything from your fingers (grip strength!!) to your toes!

It works (and I copied this list because well…the deadlift works everything).

  • Torso
    • Front
      • Abdomen
        • Rectus abdominis (under aponeurosis)
      • Obliques
        • Abdominal external oblique muscle
        • Abdominal internal oblique muscle
    • Back
      • Iliocostalis
      • Intertransversarii laterales lumborum
      • Latissimus dorsi
      • Levator scapulae
      • Longissimus
      • Quadratus lumborum
      • Rhomboideus major
      • Serratus posterior superior
      • Serratus posterior inferior
      • Splenius cervicis
      • Teres Major
      • Trapezius muscle
  • Legs
    • Quadriceps
      • Rectus femoris
      • Vastus lateralis
      • Vastus intermedius
      • Vastus medialis
    • Hamstrings
      • Biceps femoris muscle
        • long head
        • short head
      • Semitendinosus
      • Semimembranosus
  • Hips
    • Gluteal muscles
      • Gluteus maximus
      • Gluteus minimus
    • Piriformis
    • Superior gemellus
  • Forearms
    • Flexor digitorum profundus

Enough said? haha

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Posted on January 24, 2012, in Benefits of doing "man" exercises, Workout and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Reblogged this on Inspiredweightloss.

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