What are crunches?
Crunches are another famous abs calisthenic exercise. Sometimes called a variation of the sit-up, the major difference with crunches is they do not go through the full range of motion like a sit-up. When performing crunches the lower back should not leave the floor. This isolates the abdominals and does not use the back or the hip flexors to supplement performing the exercise.
Some say it is a safer alternative to the sit-up because it does not strain the lower back. If possible, performing both sit-ups and crunches will compliment each other in an exercise regime!
This is a great exercise for anyone to perform.
If you have come here to learn about how to get a 6-pack, I can tell you right away its not all about doing crunches or sit-ups. To get 6 pack abs, you need to burn fat by doing high intensity, full-body exercises and maintaining a good diet and more. One of the best books I’ve ever read on the subject of six-pack abs are The Truth About Six-Pack Abs. I completely recommend this to anyone after trying it myself – it is packed with 106 pages of information which answers just about any question you might have about achieving a 6-pack. The author also gives you diet and meal suggestions which are essential in your 6-pack goals. I personally still use The Truth About Six-Pack Abs as reference to this day. Check it out now here!
How do you perform a standard traditional crunch?
- You start this calisthenic exercise with your back on the floor and your knees bent.
- Your hands can be crossed across your chest or held against the side of your head much like the sit-up.
- Begin the crunch by curling your shoulders off the ground and towards your knees, do not lift your entire back off the ground!
- Take it slow to get the desired effect.
- When coming back down, don’t let your head rest to the floor.
- Rinse and repeat.
Some various forms of crunches:
- Bicycle Crunch – performed by bringing together elbows and knees. Alternating between left knee and right elbow and vice versa for right knee and left elbow creating a bicycle effect. The leg that is not not coming together with an elbow should go straight out into the air. Perform this slowly to get the desired effect.
- Inclined Crunches – performing crunches on an incline
- Twisting Crunches – performing crunches by lifting one shoulder off the ground at a time.
You can also bring your upper body toward the side as you lift the shoulder as added resistance.
- Side Crunch – similar to the standard tradition crunch, however lay both your legs to one side while your torso still faces up.
- V Crunch – similar in concept to the V-situp. Sit with your legs in the air about 45 degrees. Begin by moving your shoulders towards your knees but do not go all the way up, and come back to the original position and repeat.
- Crunches on an exercise ball!
Reverse crunch a.k.a. Supine Crunch – crunch done with the legs instead of the movement using the chest and shoulders that benefits the hips and abdomens. The movements imitate the effects of crunches. Lie down flatly on the floor or a bench and stretch your legs straight out. Hold arms straight out to the side or towards your feet or if you’re on a bench grab the edge or other equipment above your head as you lift your legs up to 90 degrees. Do this exercise slowly, do not let your legs swing up and down!
Common mistakes with Crunches:
- Placing the hands behind the head – Don’t! It is very likely that you will use your arms to force your head forward while performing a crunch which can cause a neck injury. It is best to keep your hands against the side of your head. Personally, I keep my fingertips around my ears while performing crunches. The alternative is to cross your arms over your chest or hold your arms in front straight out between your legs and perform the exercise.
- You should not go “flat” on the ground with your head and shoulders as this will disengage your ab muscles throughout the exercise – try to perform a full set before disengaging.
- Breathing – exhale when you go up and inhale when you go down
- Don’t go too fast as this will cause you to swing and you won’t get the desired effect of crunches, take it slow. If necessary, pause for a second at the top and bottom of the crunch as this will really engage the abs.
- Look up when you go up!
- Don’t use leg or hip muscles to help you (unless you’re doing supine crunches, etc.)
Attempting crunches the wrong way could lead to backaches, muscle cramps, and other problems. Plus, if you don’t do them correctly, you won’t see the desired results.
Crunches really isolate the abdominal muscles when done correctly and helps strengthen your core tremendously. Remember the effectiveness in a calisthenic exercise such as crunches is proper form, technique, and breathing.
Crunches will help you achieve a six pack, but remember that it is not the only exercise you need. To learn more effective exercises that help give you the 6-pack physique, check out The Truth About Six-Pack Abs.