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What Are Crunches?
Crunches, also known as abdominal crunches, are a core exercise designed to target your abdominal muscles—specifically your rectus abdominis (the six-pack muscle) and your obliques. Perform crunches by lying face-up with your feet hip-width apart. While keeping your lower back on the floor, lift your upper back and shoulder blades off of the floor. With proper form, this abdominal exercise can increase your core strength and prepare you for other more complicated bodyweight exercises like the side plank, push-up, and V-up.
How to Do Crunches With Perfect Form
For crunches, begin by performing 2–3 sets of 10–15 repetitions. Choose your sets and repetitions based on your ability to maintain good technique throughout all sets and repetitions.
- Lie face-up on an exercise mat with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
- Place both of your hands on the back of your head without interlocking your fingers. Your spine and pelvis should be in a neutral position.
- Slightly tuck your pelvis and bring your ribcage down while engaging your core. Your chin should remain tucked throughout the movement, as if you were holding an egg under your chin. All repetitions should begin from this position.
- Begin the upward movement by squeezing your abs. Curl your shoulders off the floor while squeezing your abs. Pause at the top of the movement.
- Slowly lower to the starting position while maintaining tension on your abs. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Crunches vs. Sit-Ups: What’s the Difference?
Although both of these ab exercises can help you build a strong core, they differ from one another in a few ways.
- Movement pattern: To perform sit-ups, lift your entire upper body off the floor. In contrast, crunches use a smaller range of motion as you lift only the top of your body above your belly button.
- Muscles worked: Both crunches and sit-ups activate core muscles throughout your midsection. However, sit-ups also activate your hip flexor muscles.
- Difficulty level: The sit-up is a slightly more advanced ab workout than the basic crunch. If you’re having trouble with crunching form or experiencing any back pain, consult a personal trainer to minimize your risk of injury.
- Variations: Some crunch variations include the bicycle crunch and the reverse crunch. If you want to add an additional challenge to your sit-up exercises, consider holding onto a weight plate or kettlebell during the exercise.
How to Work Out Safely and Avoid Injury
If you have a previous or pre-existing health condition, consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. Proper exercise technique is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program, but you may need to modify each exercise to attain optimal results based on your individual needs. Always select a weight that allows you to have full control of your body throughout the movement. When performing any exercise, pay close attention to your body, and stop immediately if you note pain or discomfort.
In order to see continual progress and build body strength, incorporate proper warm-ups, rest, and nutrition into your exercise program. Your results will ultimately be based on your ability to adequately recover from your workouts. Rest for 24 to 48 hours before training the same muscle groups to allow sufficient recovery.