Sunday, December 4, 2022

How to Do Crunches

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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.

Method 1

Doing a Basic Crunch

Lie on your back on an exercise mat. Using a mat, thick towel, or carpeted surface is more comfortable than lying on a hard, bare floor.

  • 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.
Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Your knees and feet should be about hip-width apart. Position your feet so your heels are about 12 to 18 in (30 to 46 cm) from your tailbone.
Cross your arms in front of your chest. You could also place your fingertips behind your neck or head if it feels more comfortable. Just be sure not to tug your head or neck up as you perform a crunch.

  • 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.
Lift your shoulder blades off of the mat with a smooth, controlled motion. Inhale, then exhale as you engage your ab muscles and raise your torso. Lift yourself just enough to raise your shoulder blades off of the floor. Once your shoulders are raised, pause and hold that position for 1 to 2 seconds.

  • 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.
EXPERT TIP

Exhale as you curl forward and inhale as you lower your torso back down.

Lower yourself back down with a slow, steady motion. Gently inhale as you slowly lower your torso. Don't just drop back down to the mat. Using smooth, controlled motions work your ab muscles more effectively and help prevent injury.[7]

  • 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.[8]
  • 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.

Method 2

Doing a Reverse Crunch

 

Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Start by lying on your exercise mat or towel with your palms facing down. For extra support, you could stretch out your arms to each side (so you look like the letter “T”) instead of positioning them close to your body.[9]

  • Whether your arms are stretched out or close to your body, your palms should be flat on the floor.
Raise your legs to bring your knees over your hips. Inhale, then exhale as you contract your ab muscles and lift your feet off of the floor. Bend your knees at 90 degree angles, and hold them directly over your hips.

  • Remember to use smooth, controlled motions. Use your arms to keep your balance and maintain control.
Lift your hips and tailbone off of the mat. Inhale, then exhale as you slowly raise your hips. Bring your knees toward your head, and keep them bent at 90 degree angles. Once your tailbone is off of the floor, hold the position for 1 to 2 seconds.[11]

  • 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.
Lower your hips to the floor with a controlled motion. Inhale as you slowly and smoothly bring your hips back to the floor. Keep your knees bent at 90 degree angles, and position them directly over your hips. Pause in this position for a moment, then lift your hips again to perform another rep.

  • 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.

Method 3

Trying Other Variations

Target your obliques with side crunches. Lie on your back with your knees bent, then lower both legs to the mat on your left side. Place your hands over your chest or behind your head, then raise your upper back off of the mat using the same techniques as a regular crunch.

  • Do 12 crunches with your legs lowered to the left, then repeat the steps to do another set on your right side.
Try overhead crunches to increase difficulty. Start on your back with your knees bent, and stretch out your arms straight above your head (so you look like the letter “I”). Keep your arms extended as you raise your upper back using the same techniques as a standard crunch.

  • 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.
Add bicycle crunches to your ab workout. Start on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Raise your left leg toward your chest, and extend your right leg straight, as if you were pedaling a bike. Place your fingertips behind your head, lift your upper back off of the mat, and rotate your torso to bring your right elbow toward your left knee.

  • 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.
Mix up your routine with cable crunches. Kneel below a cable pulley with handle attachments. Grasp the handles, bend your elbows in a pull-up position, and pull with your arms until they’re level with your face. Exhale, and keep your hips stationary as you contract your abs, curl your back, and bring your elbows toward your thighs.

  • 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.
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