In case you haven’t noticed, Team LC is in total Summer Boot Camp mode. We have also been pinning healthy recipes and workout plans to gear up for beach season. Today, I’m going to take your workout routine a step further by sharing a few tips on how to correct your crunches and work your abs the right way.

If you notice that your lower back hurts and your neck is sore after finishing your regular core routine, you are probably doing something wrong. Check out these 5 steps below for my crash course on how to make your crunches count (and learn how to keep your joints in check too!)…

  1. Steer clear of old-school sit-ups.
    Sit-ups that require you to come all the way up from the floor to your knees can put a strain on your lower back and neck. Make the switch to crunches instead. Crunches should be a smaller movement where you lift your head and shoulders up from the floor about 1/3 of the way, then back down again.
  2. Cross your hands over your chest, not behind your neck.
    Pulling your head up with your hands when you do crunches can really put a strain on your neck. Instead, cross your arms over your chest and focus on pulling up with your abdominal muscles. Your head, neck and abs should be in one straight line—if your neck is coming up first, make the change!
  3. Pull in and press down.
    At the top of your crunch, pull your belly button in towards your spine while you press your lower back down to the floor. Exhale while you do this to steady your breathing. According to FitSugar, these small adjustments will create the right amount of tension in your abdominal wall, making the muscles stronger.
  4. Keep Your Chin Up…
    …Literally! Instead of touching your chin to your chest while you crunch, keep your chin pointed upward to the ceiling. This will isolate your core and create that burn in your lower abdomen. You will also minimize strain on your neck: double bonus.
  5. Inhale and relax.
    When you’re lowering down from your crunch, inhale and relax while you return back to your starting position, without completely relaxing the muscular tension in your abs. According to Livestrong, a set of 10-25 repetitions should be a challenge if you are doing your crunches correctly.

If you keep these tips in mind, you will gain strong abs and minimize your back pains from doing crunches the wrong way. Just remember that doing hundreds of crunches is not the only factor that gets you to a perfect six-pack. In order for your abs to show, you must pair your workout with a healthy diet of fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains, and a lot of water. Check out Lauren’s Summer Boot Camp Plan for tons of healthy meals and fat-burning fitness routines. Then, make sure you are doing your crunches the correct way and you will be on your way to getting those toned, lean abs.

What is your favorite abs workout?

Team LC

Photo: Orbit Nutrition
Sources: FitSugar, Livestrong