Crunches are an extremely effective compound-muscle ab exercise. When done correctly, they target your upper abdominal, lower abdominal, oblique, and lower back muscles, and have less risk of injury than traditional sit-ups. This article will teach you how to ensure correct crunch form, avoid neck pain, and build your core strength. Once you’ve mastered the basic crunch, we’ll show you crunch variations to add to your workout, like reverse crunches, bicycle crunches, and side crunches, that further target specific ab muscles!. There are some Tips to Do Crunches.
Doing a Basic Crunch
- To broaden your workout and engage your entire core, you could also do crunches on a stability ball.
- For more resistance, you can try doing crunches on a declined exercise bench.
- Tugging your head or neck can strain your back. To skip this risk altogether, cross your arms over your chest.
- For increased resistance, you could hold a 5 to 10 pounds (2.3 to 4.5 kg) plate weight over your chest.
- If you place your hands behind your head or neck, keep your elbows bent, extended to your sides, and level with your ears. Letting your arms close in around your head encourages your head to tilt forward.
- Lifting your entire torso off of the floor can cause lower back strain. Furthermore, your hip flexors take over when you sit up all the way. A crunch targets the abs more effectively than a full sit-up.
- Your lower back, tailbone, and feet should maintain contact with the mat at all times.
- Keep your neck relaxed instead of tucking in your chin. Try to keep an apple-sized space between your chin and your chest. Looking at the ceiling can help keep you from curling your neck too much.
- If you are lifting your feet off the floor during the rep put your feet under something to keep your feet on the ground.
Exhale as you curl forward and inhale as you lower your torso back down.
- After lowering your upper body to the mat, pause for a moment before you do another crunch. If you rush into the next rep, you’ll end up using momentum to lift yourself instead of your muscles. Rushed movements can also lead to back injuries.
- Try doing a set of 12 crunches. For a full ab workout, you could do 3 sets of 12 standard crunches, 3 sets of reverse crunches, and 3 sets of bicycle or side crunches.
There's no one-size-fits all for how many crunches to do. For most people, you could start off doing 3 sets of 20 crunches on your first workout. If you can double that very easily, then do it. Also, you'll see some progress if you do crunches once or twice a week, but you'll see better results if you do them 5 or 6 times a week. You don't really have to worry about overdoing something like that.
Doing a Reverse Crunch
- Whether your arms are stretched out or close to your body, your palms should be flat on the floor.
- Remember to use smooth, controlled motions. Use your arms to keep your balance and maintain control.
- Your head, upper torso, and arms should maintain contact with the floor. Use your arms to balance, but don’t use them to power your lift. Focus on letting your core muscles do the work.
- Repeat the steps to complete a set of 12 reverse crunches. After you’ve finished the last rep, slowly lower your feet back to the floor.
Trying Other Variations
- Do 12 crunches with your legs lowered to the left, then repeat the steps to do another set on your right side.
- Extending your arms adds more resistance and makes your abs work harder. For an even greater challenge, you could hold a plate weight or kettlebell in your hands.
- Then, straighten your left leg as you drive your right knee toward your chest. At the same time, rotate your torso to bring your left elbow toward your right knee.
- Continue to pedal and rotate to complete 12 reps for each side.
- Remember to use smooth, slow motions, and don’t yank your head or neck with your hands.
- Inhale as you return the starting position, then repeat to complete 12 reps. Remember to use smooth, controlled motions. Pause between each rep so momentum doesn’t power your movements.
- Keep your neck neutral instead of tucking in your chin. Remember to keep an apple-sized space between your chin and chest. It is effective to do crunches.