Why Planks Are Better Than Crunches
Planks: Your Secret to Looking Long and Lean
If you're a devoted crunch fan, it's time to add planks to your ab-working mix. While the classic crunch is an effective way to strengthen and define your midsection, you need to make sure you're adding moves that help unround a hunched-over body too.
Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, known for whipping stars like Katy Perry and Jessica Simpson into shape, recommends the unassuming plank as an alternative to crunches for this very reason. "Everybody is very anterior-dominated; through the course of the day, we're sitting in our car, we're sitting at the computer, we're on our phones, and we tend to be very closed," Harley recently explained to us. "What a crunch does is it shortens us." This is why Harley recommends posterior-strengthening exercises for his clients (like this 25-minute workout, one of his favorites) to help unround shoulders and correct posture, along with planks, which still strengthen your abs without the rounded-over movement. "[The plank] is a static movement, and it's isometric: we're working the muscles, but we're not necessarily shortening the muscles that much," Harley explains.
If you're new to the plank, read our tips for how to do a plank correctly here. Try it the next time you are in your living room or at the gym; you may be only able to hold the plank position for a few seconds when you first start, but you'll feel your abs working from the beginning. Work your way up to a five-minute plank with our two-week plank challenge!