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6 Mistakes CrossFit Coaches Make And How to Fix Them

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We’ve worked with well over a thousand CrossFit® coaches across the globe. We speak with coaches daily about their goals and their struggles. These dialogues have offered us unique insights what works and doesn’t work in the fitness coaching as it relates to CrossFit®.

Inside all of these conversations we’ve discovered the top six common problems CrossFit® Coaches face as well as how to overcome these challenges.

  • You go after the wrong clients

    Many CrossFit Gyms and coaches utilize free trials or low membership prices in an effort to acquire more clients. While this strategy does get more clients into the system, it brings the wrong type of clients into your system. People who enter your gym through low price offerings typically aren’t going to be very well aligned with your beliefs or view of fitness.

    (RELATED: Wheels of Fortune: Why Discounting Your Gym Services Kills your Business)

    This massive influx of the wrong type of clientele ultimately drains you business system, your coaches, your current recurring clients and yourself. These practices dilute your gyms services, not enhance it.

    Don’t get lost in the idea that more clients today will help you reach your business goals.

    You need to spend time today determining who the best clients are for your fitness services. This leads to a stronger message, better results, and a proper platform to run your business.

    The Solution…

    Create a vision: Understand who you are and define your business., otherwise you will consistently reach out to the wrong ‘type’ of client.

    Identify your ideal client: Take the time, do your research, and determine what type of client aligns with your vision. You shouldn’t have to price down your gym services in order to find them.

    Market to those ideal clients: If you market that you have the “lowest price in the city” do you think that you will sign up clients who will be loyal when a cheaper option opens up next door?
    Not a chance. Marketing to your ideal client will not only preserve your brand identity but it will also make it easier for the ideal client to find you.

    Deliver to those ideal clients: If you claim to be the best gym in the city, then consider
    these two points:

    1. how can you prove it?
    2 what are you doing to ensure that you actually deliver that quality?

    It’s a cliche because it’s completely true. Actions speak louder than words.

  • Your WOD’s Aren’t Designed Effectively

    When you walk into the gym everyday and write the workout on the board, do you KNOW how your clients will respond?

    Let’s take “Fran” for example, after running a group through the workout, is everyone lying on the ground coughing in pain? Or, when you look around are some only slightly sweating and are already putting their weights away? The challenge is that each person responds differently to all workouts depending on their muscle endurance, mechanical ability, strength, skill, speed or capacity. In the case of Fran, the workout was originally designed to simulate a 2 minute gymnastics ring routine that left them gasping for air. So, if you are wanting to test your clients in a 2 minute time domain, is Fran really the right test?

    Most CrossFit Coaches have no understanding of how to program an effective and targeted Workout of the Day. Much of this has to do with the manner in which they were taught in the Level 1 CrossFit Certification courses. They simply were not taught how to program workouts in a way that tackled the various energy systems.

    Everytime you create a workout, it needs to have a purpose. Constantly varied functional fitness movements performed at high intensity does not imply that you slam random movements and time domains together.

    The Solution…

    Determine the purpose of your workout: Are you testing or are you training a
    specific fitness domain: endurance, strength, stamina, speed, power, coordination, etc.

    Design a workout with a specific response in mind: If you’re trying to test
    a client’s 2 minute capacity to tolerate pain and they can go unbroken in thrusters and
    pull ups, prescribe Fran. If your client is not proficient in either of those movements,
    prescribing 21-15-9 of slam balls and no push up burpees may be a better test for that
    individual.

    Reflect: Constantly evaluate and refine your programing to ensure that your clients are
    progressing, avoiding injuring and getting results.

  • You Don’t Coach Nutrition or Lifestyle

    Training is a very small part of the journey to health and fitness. If you were to calculate how much time a client typically spends in a gym compared to everything else they do weekly, the gym only constitutes 3% of their total time commitment each week. This leaves 97% of their life unaccounted for.

    This is where nutrition coaching and lifestyle coaching come into play.

    Your clients originally came to you for results. They had some goal in mind and they believed that you could help them reach it. When you sat down with them to discuss how your program could get them there did you casually mention nutrition or did you lay out a specific plan? Did you offer any lifestyle guidance and advice?

    Nutrition plays a very important role in someone looking and feeling better as well as their performance. If you cannot address the nutrition or lifestyle side of the equation your clients may not reach their goals.

    It is a mistake to believe that a client will implement your nutrition or lifestyle advice if you have never had a conversation with them and truly understand where they are starting from. Every person has different goals, unique metabolic systems, and changing lifestyles. If you are giving “one-size-fits all” advice or running challenges because you don’t have knowledge on nutrition you will lose both credibility and clients.

    The Solution…

    Discuss nutrition and lifestyle from the start: Make nutrition and lifestyle part of the initial consult. Find out exactly what they ate the last couple days, and ask them how they feel after they eat, during training and throughout the day/night. You should also ask about their levels of stress throughout the day as well as their daily habits and if they thoroughly chew their food. By doing this you will connect the role nutrition and lifestyle plays with the results they desire.

    Create a plan and accountability: Give them a simple plan that sets them up for
    success and adjust it when necessary. Create a system to check-in with them and hold
    them accountable. You will see far better results with a phased nutrition plans and lifestyle guidelines, instead of drastic changes or 30-day challenges that they won’t be able to stick to long-term.

    Keep educating: Educate yourself and your clients on nutrition and lifestyle guidelines. The more you understand lifestyle and nutrition, the more likely you are to get them results. When you get your clients results you create trust and lasting relationships.

  • You Don’t Connect With Your Clients

    Do you know what’s important to you and why you are a coach? Why do you wake up early, stay up late? Why haven’t taken a vacation in over 2 years? Are you aware of your clients and their priorities?

    Your priorities in life can lead to biases which can have an impact on your ability to communicate and align with your clients. Who is your ideal client is and which ones do you seem to always butt heads with?

    Have you ever noticed you can say one thing to one person and get great results and then completely lose another client with that same communication? Clients respond different to different forms of communication and a lack of understanding If you don’t understand yourself as a coach and you are not really sure why your clients have come to you or what they are hoping to gain, there will alway be a disconnect.

    Emotionally and empathetically connecting with your clients is an important aspect of what makes a successful coach. It allows for excellent communication and encourages positive changes in your clients.

    The Solution…

    Pay attention: Listen to what your clients are really telling you. Take them through a specific path to see what they actually consider priorities. Over time you should make it your goal to understand why your clients are at your facility and what working out really means to them.

    Recognize your biases: Just because you are passionate about fitness and being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean your clients are. They may have joined a gym to look and feel better and that always aligns with how you see it. Pressuring clients to do things that do not align with their goals and priorities is not effective and may even harm your relationship with them. Learn to recognize where your priorities lie and how that bias may be keeping you from framing fitness in a way that inspires and aligns them to succeed.

  • Your ‘Assessment’ Isn’t Really an Assessment

    Soccer mom, business executive, ex-football player, college student, each of these potential clients have different backgrounds, training ages and lifestyles. Yet, you put them through the same ‘On Ramp’ or ‘Foundations program’ when they first start.

    You examine their air squat, their pushup and pullup capabilities, teach them the basics of barbell work and then run them through a short workout to test their aerobic capacity. Then, like magic, they are ready to join in your regular CrossFit classes…not so fast.

    What if one of those people just started an exercise program they can’t do any of those movements, what further information are you gathering to know where to start them. What if they’ve been training for 15 years and came to you to get over a plateau again where do they start? However, without fully understanding where they are starting you will have a hard time getting them the results they want, leaving them dissatisfied and uncommitted to your gym.

    Every client needs a unique assessment. This gives the coach insight into where the client is starting from and where their program design needs to take them in order to fulfill the clients goals.

    The Solution…

    Have a purpose: Looking at a client’s air squat technique and putting them through “3 rounds for time” is not a true assessment. The purpose of assessment is to get a thorough understanding of where your client is beginning by gathering data. You should be gathering data about their individual capabilities and basic movement ability.

    Use the data: After you have done a proper assessment, don’t let it go to waste. Actually incorporate that data within your program development for that client. Regularly check back and take notes to see how far they have come and what challenges/restrictions they are facing.

    Let the results speak for themselves: When you really take the time to fully assess and understand where each client is starting and create a plan based around data, you are on your way to getting clients the results they want. Those results are a key factor in retention considering that is what most clients are paying for.

    (RELATED: Do You Even Science Bro? How Coaches Can Use the Scientific Method To Help their Clients)

  • You Have No Career Trajectory

    A lot of CrossFit Coaches feel trapped and stagnant in their fitness career. Most CrossFit coaches have part-time jobs with poor compensation at their local affiliates without a path towards a fulfilling full time career in the industry that they love.

    In order to escape this vicious cycle you need to further your education and become a master of the whole landscape of fitness coaching.

    The Solution

    Apply for the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program: The OPEX Coaching Certificate Program, also referred to as CCP, is the most comprehensive fitness coaching course on the market. Participants in this program master principles of program design, nutrition, assessment, consultation, as well as business topics. You will be given all the resources you need to pursue a career in the competitive fitness industry.

    Become a true professional coach by applying today.

  • Exercise Programs

    How to start running again (after a hiatus)

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    Sharing my tips for getting back into a running routine after an injury or break. 

    Hi friends! Happy Monday! I hope you had an amazing weekend. We met up with our friends Betsy and Jeremy to celebrate Betsy’s birthday and had a lovely Valentine’s Day with our little valentines. Exciting news: Organifi is free shipping sitewide today!!! They also have some new exclusive products which aren’t listed on the main site: the chocolate bars (!), the 14ct Go packs of the green juice, and the 14ct Go packs of gold powder. (I use the green juice every day in my water bottle and loooove the gold powder with warm almond milk at night to wind down.) Use the code FITNESSISTA for 15% off in addition to free shipping.

    For today’s post, I wanted to share some tips on how to get back into running after a hiatus or injury. These are also great tips for beginners if you’re considering adding running into your routine! I’ve been a fair-weather runner for many years now, and tend to go in phases where it’s a huge part of my life and a small piece of my fitness pie. I haven’t sprinted in about a year – my last Orangetheory class was about one year ago exactly – and I realized how much I missed the challenge and free feeling of running. It’s always been a form of moving meditation for me and thought I’d bring it back once a week into my routine. I’ve gone on a few walk-runs and they’ve felt surprisingly cathartic and energizing.

    Here are some ideas if you’re looking to get back into the running game.

    How to start running again (after a hiatus)
    1. Get new shoes. (I always love a reason to get new shoes)
    If you haven’t ran in a while like yours truly, chances are that you need new sneakers specifically for running. It’s a good idea to have a pair of sneaks that are solely for running purposes, because other activities will wear out the soles differently. Also, if you haven’t ran in a while, there’s a chance that your sneakers are old and need to be refreshed.

    Many running stores will offer complimentary fittings to ensure that you have the proper support and fit.

    I’ve used a handful of different running sneakers over time but my last pair was the Brooks Levitate 2. I’m trying out the Brooks Adrenaline and will definitely report back!

    2.) Make sure you can walk for a solid duration (30-45 minutes at a steady pace) before you start to add runs.
    Walking is a great precursor to running because it includes similar movements and muscle groups. It’s a solid way to build up your endurance and strengthen the muscles in your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves before you add the additional impact of running. Walking is an excellent starting point for so many individual fitness routines if you’re a beginner and want to build up your cardio endurance (and positivity impact your heart health and mood!).

    3.) Start with run-walk intervals and in time, days, and intensity from here. 
    DON’T go straight into full runs when you aren’t conditioned. This is something I see allllllll the dang time: when people get excited about fitness and literally hit the ground running after being sedentary for months. I love the enthusiasm, but unfortunately, this is a recipe for injury and burnout. Walk-run intervals are a smart way to get the hang of running and prepare the body in smaller doses. I recommend starting out with a double walk to run ratio and decrease the amount of walking time from there. For example, walk for 1 minute and run for 30 seconds, repeat for 20 minutes total. From here, increase your run time to 1 minute and walk for 2 minutes. Once this feels good, take the walk time down to 1:30, then 1 minute, and then 30 seconds. Or gradually ADD onto your run time while keeping the walk time the same. Eventually, you’ll feel the need to take walk breaks less and less, and then you can run for a solid block of time.

    I’m personally only starting with one day per week because I like to do ALL THE THINGS, but if you want to run more consistently, I wouldn’t do more than 2 or 3 days max (with breaks in between) if you’re just getting back into it or just getting started.

    4.) Make strength training a regular part of your routine. 
    This is so important for any type of cardio endurance activity, like running, cycling, walking, hiking, dancing, kickboxing, etc. A balanced strength training program will not only strengthen your muscles, support joints, and help prevent injury, but it will also make you stronger for your main activity. Strength training can help to increase lean muscle, strength, endurance, power, speed, and lead to measurable performance gains. If you’re looking for ideas on how to combine strength with running, check out this post!

    5.) Don’t compare your previous times and records to your current status. 
    This is SUCH a tricky one. When you get back into the swing of running, it’s so tempting to compare your current times to your previous PRs. Set new PRs! Like this is my “postpartum PR,” “my post knee-surgery PR,” or “my first Rona PR!” <— me

    Be proud of yourself for setting NEW goals for yourself and cheer for any progress along the way!

    6.) Seek out extra resources and communities for help. 
    There is a whole internet world of resources and fitness communities out there! Thank you for stopping by this one today and I’m always here for you. <3 For some of my favorite run-specific blogs, check out Amanda’s site, Teri’s, and Janae’s.

    7.) Consider signing up for a race for extra accountability and motivation. 
    I’m not quite sure what the race climate is like with everything going on right now (I know there are virtual races out there?) but something to put in your pocket for later! I’m nowhere near taking out my race face right now, but maybe I’ll consider trying something in the fall. If anything, I just can’t wait to make it back to Orangetheory and crush a 30-minute treadmill block again. 😉

    So tell me friends: do you run as part of your weekly fitness routine? If not, what’s your #1 favorite fitness activity?

    With alllllll the things I enjoy, barre, spin, strength, and yoga are tied in the #1 spot.

    Runner friends: tell me about any awesome new gear you’ve found lately! I was looking for a new flip belt and found this one. It has a water bottle that fits flesh to your back and you don’t hear a whoosh whoosh as it bounces around – it stays put! Pretty handy.

    Happy Monday, friends!

    xo

    Gina

    More:

    How to train for a half marathon while strength training 

    Tips for running faster

    Back in running action

    Running tips for Amanda from Run to the Finish

    Track and strength workout

    The post How to start running again (after a hiatus) appeared first on The Fitnessista.

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    Exercise Programs

    The 12 Best Compound Exercises for Beginners (How to Train Efficiently)

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    It’s time to discover the best compound exercises for beginners!

    Compound exercises are the most “bang for your buck” when it comes to working out, so I’m super excited you want to learn more about them!

    In our 1-on-1 Online Coach Program, we prioritize compound exercises when building workout routines for our clients. We’ll explain why today.

    Here’s what we’ll cover:

    What are compound exercises? (How to train efficiently)
    The 5 best compound exercises (bodyweight)
    The 7 best compound exercises (barbell)
    Start training with compound exercises (Next steps)

    Also, if you’re in a hurry, we’ve compiled all our strength and weight training content into one handy guide called (appropriately): Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. 

    Grab it for free when you join the Rebellion (that’s us!) below:

    Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!
    Everything you need to know about getting strong.
    Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
    How to find the right gym and train properly in one.

    Alright, cue the music. Let’s do this thang.

    What are Compound Exercises?

    Let’s compare “compound exercises” to “isolation exercises”:

    Compound exercises require more than one muscle group working together to complete the movement. This replicates the way your body naturally moves.
    Isolation exercises more or less train one specific muscle group. For example, the leg extension machine focuses on your quads, so it “isolates” training that muscle.

    Front squats would be an example of a compound exercise, because it engages your entire  lower body and core, and quite a bit of your upper body too, as you perform the movement:

    As opposed to biceps curls, which more or less just trains your biceps:

    As we explain in our Guide to Functional Fitness, whenever possible you want to focus on compound exercises.

    Why?

    Because in everyday life, you don’t use your muscles in isolation!

    When you’re placing luggage in the overhead bin, hoisting a bag of dog food from the floor, or hauling your kid to bed, you’re using your muscle groups together. 

    Just like you would with a compound exercise.

    Plus, since you’re using multiple muscle groups at once, you’re taxing your body more when training. This can provide more efficient use of your time in the gym. 

    In other words, why do three different exercises when you can just do one?

    Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to working out.

    The 5 Best Compound Exercises (Bodyweight)

    1) The Push-up: The best exercise you could ever do for yourself when it comes to using your bodyweight for “push muscles.”

    Muscles trained with the push-up:

    Pectoral 
    Triceps
    Deltoids
    Abs

    Here’s our video on how to do a proper push-up:

    Easier Variation: Knee Push-up

    Tougher Variation: Decline Push-up

    2) The Bodyweight Squat: This exercise serves a dual purpose – it is the foundation for building strength AND helps build proper mobility. If you are going to ever do barbell squats, you need to work on hitting proper depth with a bodyweight squat first! 

    Muscles trained with the squat:

    Quads
    Glutes
    Hamstrings
    Core muscles

    Easier Variation: Assisted Bodyweight Squat

    Tougher Variation: Goblet Squat

    3) The Inverted Bodyweight Row: Until you can get your first pull-up or chin-up, these exercises are GREAT to start building your pull-muscle strength.

    Muscles trained with the inverted row:

    All of your back muscles (Latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius)
    Biceps
    Forearm muscles (dorsal, ventral)
    Your grip

    Easier Variation: Incline Inverted Row

    Tougher Variation: Elevated Feet Inverted Row

    4) The Pull-up and Chin-up: Once you can support your body’s weight above the bar, the world becomes your playground. No strength training routine should be without pull-up or chin-up work! (Can’t do a pull-up yet? We got you.)

    Muscles trained with the pull-up:

    All of your back muscles (Latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius)
    Biceps
    Latissimus dorsi (Lats)
    Trapezius (Traps)
    Abs
    Your grip

    Here’s how to perform a proper pull-up:

    Easier Variation: Negative Pull-ups

    Tougher Variation: Weighted Pull-ups

    5) The Bodyweight Dip: As you start to get stronger with push-ups and need to find a way to increase the challenge, consider doing dips.

    Warning: these are very advanced, but are incredible strength-building exercises. 

    Muscles trained with the dips:

    Pectoral 
    Triceps
    Deltoids
    Rhomboid (Back muscles)
    Abs

    Easier Variation: Assisted Dips

    Tougher Variation: Weighted Dips

    These 5 compound exercises will propel you into the world of bodyweight training. 

    For more ideas on how to train without a gym, check out The 42 Best Bodyweight Exercises (Work Out Anywhere).

    Now, it’s barbell time![1]

    The 7 Best Compound Exercises (Barbell)

    After getting comfortable moving your own bodyweight around, it’s time to start training with barbells!

    To up the difficulty with these compound exercises, simply add more weight. 

    The fun thing about barbells: you can almost always add more weight (disclaimer: provided you do it safely). 

    Here are The Best Barbell Compound Exercises: 

    6) The Barbell Squat: Probably the best compound exercise when it comes to building strength and muscle throughout your whole body. 

    Show me somebody who squats heavy and I’ll show you a great physique. This is a MUST.

    Here’s how to perform the barbell back squat:

    Muscles trained with the barbell squat:

    Quads
    Glutes
    Hamstrings
    Core muscles

    7) The Barbell Deadlift: Maybe the best exercise of all time. 

    It’s certainly the most primal: “pick the weight up off the ground. Done.” 

    Here’s how to perform the deadlift:

    Muscles trained with the barbell deadlift:

    Glutes
    Erectors (Spinal muscle)
    Hamstrings
    Pretty much every muscle in your body

    8) The Barbell Romanian Deadlift: Think of this as the top half of a conventional deadlift (imagine you’re a “drinking bird” bending over at the waist):

    Here are step-by-step instructions on how to perform the Romanian deadlift:

    Muscles trained with the Romanian deadlift:

    Hamstrings
    Glutes
    Erectors (Spinal muscle)
    Rhomboid (Back muscles)

    9) The Barbell Overhead Press: Press a barbell above your head. 

    Muscles trained with the overhead press:

    Pectoral 
    Triceps
    Deltoids
    Rhomboid (Back muscles)
    Abs

    All the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and arms are engaged in order for you to lift the weight over your head. As a bonus, you need to really flex and brace your core, which gets those muscles working too.

    Here are step-by-step instructions on how to perform the overhead press:

    10) The Barbell Bench Press: Lie on a bench, and lower a barbell until it almost touches your chest. Pause, and then press it back up towards the sky. 

    Repeat! And get strong. 

    Here are step-by-step instructions on how to perform the bench press:

    Muscles trained with the benchpress:

    Pectoral 
    Triceps
    Deltoids
    Rhomboid (Back muscles)
    Abs
    Pretty much every muscle in your upper-body

    11) The Barbell Bent-Over Row: Bend your torso over and hoist a barbell up.

    Muscles trained with the bent-over row:

    All of your back muscles (Latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius)
    Biceps
    Forearm muscles (dorsal, ventral)
    Your grip

    Here are step-by-step instructions on how to perform the bent-over row:

    12) The Barbell Lunge: Have the bar across your upper back and step out with your right leg. Lower your hips until your back leg’s knee almost touches the ground. Explode up and back by pushing off with your front leg. Repeat on your other side.

    Muscles trained with the barbell lunge:

    Quads
    Glutes
    Hamstrings
    Your core (as you stabilize yourself and the weight)

    Note: The above might be tough if gyms are closed around you. If that’s so, here’s how to build a gym at home (using household equipment).

    Start Performing the Best Compound Exercises (Next Steps)

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it: commit to trying ONE of these compound movements in the next week. Use 20 seconds of courage, recruit a friend who has lifted or trained before, and try your best. 

    We all start somewhere! 

    Speaking of starting out…

    Have you yet to do ANY of these compound exercises?

    Always start out with bodyweight moves and make sure your form is correct!

    If it’s a barbell movement, use a broomstick (or PVC Pipe). 

    When it comes to movements like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bench press, etc. – your form is crucial.  Develop good habits with lighter weight and you will save yourself months of frustration later and will protect you from injury.

    If you’re struggling with certain elements of a movement, don’t get frustrated! Just understand that you’ll have areas in which you can improve.

    When I started, I really liked practicing all of the movements at home because I could watch a video online at the same time as I was watching myself do it in a mirror.

    Film yourself and compare it to our videos, or post it to the form check section of the Nerd Fitness Forums.

    Still uncomfortable with the movements after that? Look around at some local strength and conditioning gyms and see if you could hire a coach (here’s how to find a good trainer) for one or two sessions just to go over the basic movements (or consider working with an online coach).

    No matter what path you take, the most important thing you can do: START NOW!

    Don’t overthink it. Just pick a compound exercise and learn how to do it. We can add more exercises to your routine down the road.

    Want a little help getting going? The perfect next step to start your strength training journey!

    You got it. 

    Option #1) If you want a coach in your pocket, who can do video form checks, provide feedback, and adjust your workouts based on your progress, check out our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program! 

    I’ve had an online coach since 2015 and it’s changed my life. You can learn more by clicking on the box below: 

    Option #2) If you want a daily prompt for doing compound exercises at home, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

    Plus, you get to build an awesome superhero in the process!

    Try your free trial right here:

    Option #3) Join the Rebellion! We need good people like you in our community, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

    Sign-up below and receive our free guide Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. It includes step-by-step instructions for the Best Compound Exercises covered in today’s guide. 

    Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!
    Everything you need to know about getting strong.
    Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
    How to find the right gym and train properly in one.

    Alright, enough from me. Your turn:

    Do you agree with my list of best compound exercises?

    Am I missing any?

    Any tips or tricks for a newbie just getting started?

    Let me know in the comments!

    -Steve

    PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Strength Training 101 series:

    5 Best Strength Training Workout Routines For Beginners
    How Much Weight Should I Be Lifting?
    Finding the Right Gym

    ###

    GIF Source: Weighted Dips, Biceps Curl, Will Ferrell,

    Photo Source: lightfieldstudios © 123RF.com, Workout, LEGO bench press,  Lance Cpl. Tayler P. Schwamb, 101, 102, 103

    Footnotes    ( returns to text)

    My favorite time.

    The post Blog first appeared on Nerd Fitness.

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    Sit Ups vs. Crunches Which One is Better and what is the difference?

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    Flat stomach and good abs are probably the pinnacle of fitness achievement for anyone who has started with a diet and workout regimen. Although it goes beyond saying that a trim and slim core is far more appealing than those unflattering stomach rolls, a strong core will also improve your posture and make your exercises more efficient while remaining injury-free. Having said that, it is fair to say that the abs are probably the most stubborn and most difficult muscles to tone (especially for women!) and that a six-pack comes at a serious price of watching your diet and training to your limits. So how do you square the debate between sit ups vs. crunches?

    Sit Ups And Crunches

    Presuming that youve
    cut down on all the food that makes your tummy chubby and you are now looking
    for a way to see those attractive ab-delineating lines, it still goes without
    saying that you need to be prepared for some serious sweating. The reason
    behind the sweat? Lots of and lots of sit ups and crunches!

    Although all
    forms of exercise tend to make your core stronger, you wont see that six-pack
    of yours without ab-targeted workouts. Youve all probably heard of sit ups and
    crunches, but youll be surprised how many people either confuse them and think
    of them as the same exercise or are not quite sure what makes them different. If
    you are one of them, stick around while we take a closer look and compare these
    two ab-splitting exercises. Its time for the sit ups vs. crunches duel.

    What is the difference between crunches and sit ups?

    When it comes to crunches vs. sit ups, the main difference is the muscles they target. Although they are both ab-working muscles, sit ups, unlike crunches, target multiple muscles at once. Unfortunately, neither of them targets belly fat directly (you need to stay out of the kitchen and go though the hell of cardio for that!).

    The good thing about your core is that you will target some of the muscles with virtually every other bodyweight workout. Take for example squats or lunges both contribute towards a stronger core, beyond their primary purpose.

    What muscles do
    sit ups work?

    Sit ups work the abs and a range of other muscle groups like the chest,
    lower back, hip flexors and neck. However, you shouldnt dread building
    additional muscles, as muscle cells, due to their higher metabolic activity
    compared to fat cells, will make you burn more calories (and consequently fat)
    even when you are resting, which will bring you a step closer to a shredded
    abdomen.

    What muscles do
    crunches work?

    Crunches work by the principle of intense muscle isolation. They only work
    the abdominal muscles, therefore making them the most popular exercise for
    those trying to get a six-pack. They are also a perfect exercise for developing
    a strong core, which includes the lower back muscles and obliques. And a strong
    core translates into better posture and improved balance.

    The sit up
    vs. crunches discussion inevitably breaks over the benefits of each of these exercises,
    which (and this cannot be stressed enough) will be significantly reduced if
    proper form is not maintained. So let me get back to the opening question:

    Sit ups vs. crunches
    which one is better?
    Well, lets have a
    closer look at how these exercises work and then compare them one against the
    other.

    What are the benefits of crunches and how to do a proper
    crunch?

    Sit Ups Vs. Crunches 1

    The crunch works by strengthening the rectus abdominis by flexing it. Although in performing crunches you dont go as high as with the full sit up, this primary abdominal muscle activates during the first 30-45 degrees of movement, or just at the point when you lift the shoulders off the ground.

    The crunch has a smaller range of motion compared to the sit up, but that is not necessarily a bad thing as it works your core without putting stress on your back.

    One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found out that the Ab-slide exercise shows higher electromyographic activity across the external oblique, upper rectus abdominis and lower rectus abdominis, and is therefore slightly more effective than the crunch. However, the study also concluded that the crunches show significant activity as well, and should therefore not be excluded.

    Of course, you
    wont see any of the benefits of crunches if you fail to do them correctly. So
    in order to maintain proper form, follow the steps below.

    Crunches also
    build endurance in abdominal muscles. By being an isolated exercise, they help
    achieve abdominal endurance faster and more effectively when compared against
    other ab exercises. As the purpose of your abs is to stabilize your
    mid-section, help you have a good posture, and support you when lifting heavy
    objects, one of the best benefits of crunches is that they help you achieve exactly
    that which makes them quite the functional exercise.

    How to do a
    proper crunch?

    1. Lie down on your back and bend
      your knees
    2. Put your hands behind your head
      or cross them so that palms are touching opposite shoulders
    3. Draw in your belly button towards
      your spine and lift your head, neck and shoulders off the floor (no higher),
      exhaling while going up.
    4. Pause, inhale, and return to the
      staring position. Make sure that your feet, low back and tailbone never lose
      contact with the ground as you roll up and down.

    What are the benefits of sit ups and how to do a proper
    sit up?

    Crunches Vs. Sit Ups

    As I already mentioned, sit ups work more muscles in your body as opposed to abs only. They are a bodyweight exercise, just like crunches, but the fact that they engage multiple muscle groups means that they are more beneficial for toning your body and developing functional strength compared to crunches. Another of the great benefits of doing sit ups is that they do a great job at stabilizing your muscles and strengthening your core while protecting your spine.

    Doing sit ups
    will help you increase your range of motion and flexibility, which will in turn
    help you maintain a good posture and reduce the risk of back injury or strain.

    Here is how to perform
    a full sit up:

    1. Bend your knees and place your
      feet flat on the floor
    2. Put your hands behind your head
      or cross them to opposite shoulders
    3. Draw in your belly button
      towards your spine
    4. Lift your upper body pulling up
      from the floor until your elbows reach the knees. Exhale while lifting up.
    5. Pause for a second, and then
      slowly bring your upper body back to the floor. Inhale while lowering.

    How about different varieties of each?

    When considering each exercise, it is important to note that the crunch offers a far more versatile training program if you know how to vary the basic movement. We published an entire article, with a free video from our workout program, where you can gather some ideas on doing a variety of crunches or a palate of other ab exercises, so make sure to take a look.

    Ab exercises

    The sit up, on the other hand, is not an easy movement to modify. You can hold one dumbbell in your hand in order to increase the resistance on your abs and lower back, or perhaps extend your arm as you reach the highest point going upwards. Another option would be to make a slight twist with your core and therefore target your obliques too.

    If you need a comprehensive program that includes some of the most advanced abdominal workouts incorporated across a number of bodyweight training sessions, make sure to check our platform Fitness Updated, where you can find complete nutritional breakdown, recipes, and smart bodyweight training videos.

    Sit ups vs. crunches the verdict

    While sit ups engage more muscles, they undoubtedly put more strain and stress on your spine, including the neck. However, if not done with proper form, crunches can also lead to back pain, especially in beginners.

    As for their
    input in achieving the desired flat belly, they are both excellent for
    developing and strengthening core muscles. But, if you are still looking for a
    definite answer to the question Sit ups or crunches for flat stomach, the
    answer goes beyond the crunches vs. sit ups debate. No ab exercise burns fat,
    and getting a flat tummy requires combination of these exercises with a
    healthy, low-calorie diet as well as regular cardio exercises.

    As part of a comprehensive exercise routine, both the crunch and the sit up can help you lose body fat by contributing to an increase of your metabolic rate, as well as a slight but significant increase in muscle tissue around your abdomen. They alone wont shrink your tummy, but will speed the weight loss process dramatically and as you lose belly fat, your newly strengthened abs will start showing.

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