By Lisa Hoehn
The Active Times
Take a second to think about your gym routine (I’ll wait). Got it? Now, I bet you feel pretty good about the fitness moves that you’ve incorporated—you’re hitting the big muscle groups, you’re the champion of the weight room, and plus, these moves are so popular that they have to be effective. Right?
Here, find out if any of your fitness routine is actually falling flat — plus, expert-approved advice on taking your workout to the next level.
This gym-class standard needs an update: According to research from San Diego State University, the traditional crunch is the least effective strengthener for both the rectus abdominus (6-pack muscles) and the obliques (waist muscles). What’s more, because sit-ups require more strength from front ab muscles than obliques, this move can create a strength imbalance in the core — setting you up for back problems.
Your Upgrade: The Plank
Not only does the plank require more muscle activation in the obliques than the traditional crunch, according to research, but researchers have also found that practicing this position can actually help lower the risk of developing lower back pain later in life, according to Matthews. Why? “The plank targets your abdominal muscles, helps to build muscular endurance and spares your spine in the process,” she says.
Overrated: Pec Deck/Chest Fly
Your Upgrade: Bent-Forward Cable Crossover
Overrated: Bench Press
Your Upgrade: Push-Ups