I was immediately intrigued by the Crunchless Abs DVDs when they arrived on my doorstep. I pretty much hate crunches and for the last few years haven’t done any of my own free will (usually just in group exercise classes where it would be rude for me to walk out or when I’m reviewing a workout DVD and would feel like I didn’t give it a fair shake if I fast-forwarded through the sit-ups). But, I know how important core strength is, and I know that with all of the running and different activities that I do, I need my abs and back to be wicked strong. And although I’ve been doing planks regularly, I could always use some new core moves.
I tried two DVDs in the Crunchless Abs series: 3-Dimensional Core Training and Progressive Core Training. Both DVDs are made up of three 10-minute workouts: the first workouts are all done standing, the second sitting (although you stand for a lot of it) and the third on the floor. Both DVDs feature a menu that lets you select your workout or play all. (This feature almost always earns DVDs a star because this kind of setup is so dang convenient.) For the workouts, you need a mat, a chair (for the seated section), a resistance band and either a small weighted gel ball or a light dumbbell.
Most of the moves in the DVDs are unique and effective. Linda LaRue, a well-known fitness professional, instructs the DVDs and does a good job of explaining how the core muscles work and how to train them effectively. She’s really big on having you do a Kegel the entire time you’re doing the exercises to really strengthen your “girdle”, which made me giggle (seriously, “girdle” just isn’t sexy), but when you do it, you can really feel the exercises better. From side planks to lunges with rotation to seated V-sits with a resistance band around your feet, the 10-minute workouts don’t always feel super challenging, but they are working you in new ways. Progressive Core Training
even has some standing yoga-esque moves with weights that I’d consider full-body strength moves plus some explosive exercises that get your heart rate up. 3-Dimensional Core Training
is a far milder workout that’s better suited for core beginners.
By now you’re thinking that these DVDs are pretty great, right? Well…I have three major bones to pick with the DVDs. First, nowhere on the packaging does it say what equipment you need, and I don’t consider a small weighted gel ball to be a piece of equipment that everyone has. While a dumbbell can be subbed for the ball most of the time, it’s not always the same, especially during the floor sections or cool downs where she has you lie on the ball to stretch. (Ladies, do not do this with a dumbbell, ‘kay?)
Second, there seems to be a bit of a power struggle going on in both DVDs. While Linda is no doubt the lead instructor, she spends a lot of time talking about the scientific girdle stuff and less time going over form. She also never actually does an exercise. Instead, a young fellow whom I’ll call Tim (I have no idea what his name is, but he looks like a Tim), does more of the practical instruction, such as how bent your knees should be, how many reps you have left and when to exhale. At times, the two interrupt and talk over each other, occasionally so much so that you have no idea what exercise to do next. So. Not. Cool. (And for the record, Tim needs more camera time. He’s really kinda charming in both DVDs.)
Third, the chair stuff is kind of a stretch. You’re basically doing crunches in the chair. (You can’t fool me…I know a crunch when I see it!) And in the 3-Dimensional Core Training DVD’s seated section, you get in an awkward table-top position with your head and neck resting on the chair and your feet off that I’m pretty sure could really jack you up if you did it wrong. Again, So. Not. Cool.
That all being said though, I’d still add either DVD’s standing or floor sections to the end of my regular workouts for a quick 10-minute core session.
FBG Rating (Out of 5):
Long-Term Likeability: ★★★★
Fun Factor: ★★★
Meets Expectations: ★★★
Fit Bottom line: While the Crunchless Abs title may be a bit misleading and the DVD’s production a little lacking, the exercises featured are new, effective and a great way to get that girdle sexified. —Jenn
Do you hate crunches, too? Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org by next Thursday with why you want either DVD. We’ll pick two lucky readers to win! U.S. residents only, pretty please!