Crunches hurt my neck, how can I avoid this?

Question:
I like to do crunches for my abs, but every time I do them I hurt my neck! Is there any way to eliminate this problem?

Answer:
This is a common complaint. In fact, in my many years as a personal trainer I have heard this dozens of times. There are a few things you can do to make your neck more comfortable while performing crunches. I know this will sound strange, but the first thing you may want to try is placing your tongue on the roof of your mouth while crunching. This is the anatomical resting position of the tongue, and it will help to recruit the muscles near the surface of the neck that best support your head. When your tongue is in any other position the much weaker muscles near the cervical vertabrae must support the head. These muscles are easily strained and/or injured when overtaxed. Another thing you might try is resting your head on the floor briefly between reps. This will lessen the stress on your neck by allowing these muscles to relax momentarily. Just don’t rest too long or you will compromise the training effect on your abs. Finally, do not interlock your fingers and place them behind your head during crunching movements. This is probably the number one reason for neck strain during ab work, for as you begin to fatigue you will most likely begin to pull on your neck and head in order to do more reps. This can overstretch connective tissue and injure the delicate neck muscles.


Question:
I am training about 2 hours per day, 4 days per week, but not growing. My diet is solid, I use the proper supplements, and I train hard! Am I just genetically screwed?

Answer:
While not all of us has the genetics to become bodybuilding giants, everyone is capable of getting significantly bigger and stronger through weight training. If I take you at your word that you are dieting and supplementing correctly, and that you are training intensely, than my opinion is that you are in the gym for too long! Two hour, 30 set workouts are for pros on juice and with all day to train. For most trainees 10-12 total work sets is all that should be performed during each workout. You should not be in the gym for more than an hour at a time or you are at risk of over training. More is not always better when it comes to training. After 60 minutes or so of hard training, several negative things begin to happen within your body. Testosterone begins to drop, cortisol begins to rise, brain neurotransmitters begin to fizzle out, and ATP-CP stores dwindle away.  
 

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