How to do Abdominal Crunches Properly

By: David Cameron

Stomach crunches are used to exercise your abdominal muscles and provide overall strengthening to your core. Similar to a full sit-up, crunches focus in on the muscle group that give us those much sought after six packs. Instead of lifting your entire torso off the floor at the hips, a crunch only requires you to lift you upper back off of the floor. This type of workout is considered to be safer than a full sit-up because it isolates just the muscles in your abdomen without using the muscles in your hips (like a full sit-up). This prevents muscle strain and lower back injuries.

Note: Doing crunches alone will only tone your abdominal muscles. You will also have to do cardio exercises to burn calories to remove stomach fat so those new muscles can be seen.

Doing a crunch may look simple (and it is) but there are a few things you can do to make sure that you are getting the most out of you exercise.

Get prepared: Wear comfortable fitting clothing.

Crunches should be done at a smooth and moderate pace. Form is everything so carefully follow these steps.

  1. Lie on your back on the floor. (Crunches are best done on a workout mat or carpeted floor.)
  2. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground shoulder width apart.
  3. You can position your hands either folded across your chest or up by your head. If you place your hands by or behind your head, be careful do not put any stress on your neck and do not let you elbows touch.
  4. In preparation, tighten your abdominal muscles as much as you can by sucking you bellybutton towards your spine. Your lower back should always be in contact with the floor.
  5. Now start the crunches. Slowly contract your abdominal muscles and curl upwards lifting your shoulders upwards towards the ceiling (not towards your feet). Your shoulders should only rise one or two inches off of the floor. Breath-out as you move upwards.
  6. Once your abs are contracted and your shoulders are off the ground, hold the position for at least a second or more. Breath normally while holding the crunch.
  7. Slowly lower yourself to the floor in a controlled movement. Do not just drop back to the floor.
  8. Repeat 15 to 20 times per repetition. Remember, form is key so try to maintain proper form for every crunch.

Other Variations on the Crunch:

Reverse Crunch

Lie on your back. Place your hand on the floor either side of your body with your legs straight out. Use your abdominal muscles to lift your legs off the ground. Be careful to lift with your abs and not your arms! There is a variation to this where you bend your knees ninety degrees to make it easier to lift them.

Twist Crunch

These are the same as regular crunches except you only lift one shoulder off the ground at a time. The shoulder is raised up and towards the opposite shoulder. (Left shoulder towards right and vice versa) Alternate shoulders each time.

Side Crunch

Again, this is much like a traditional crunch but with the knees bent; twist your legs to one side or the other and perform the crunch. Do as many repetitions as you can with legs twisted one way and then repeat with your legs twisted in the opposite direction. This exercise will target your oblique muscles.

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