is the simplest exercise for the abdominal
region. Being the most common abdominal
exercise also means it is the abdominal
exercise that is most often done incorrectly.
Proper form is not immediately obvious
but with a few simple adjustments, the
can be extremely effective.
to do Abdominal Crunches:
down flat on your back with your
knees bent and your feet on the
your hands wherever you feel comfortable
(on your chest or beside your
head - just be sure you don't
pull on your head).
typical crunch is taught by instructing
you to simply roll your upper
torso forward. This is fine to
increase the effectiveness of
the crunch movement, push your
chest and head up towards the
ceiling pushing your lower back
flat onto the floor.
anatomy will automatically cause
you to follow a crunching pattern.
to crunch up towards the ceiling
will increase the tension on the
at the top of the movement for
a second and squeeze hard.
not lift up into a sit-up as this
works the hip flexors and can
strain your back.
for Performing Abdominal Crunches More
Keep it in line
your head and neck in line with the spine.
Don't let your chin touch your chest.
This takes the focus off the abs and can
strain your neck.
people forget the negative or lowering
part of the crunch. Fight gravity on the
way down to really get a burn.
Breathing for a smaller waist
the top when you're squeezing, hold your
body up and breathe in and out a few times,
trying to relax every other muscle except
Anchoring your feet
will intensify the contraction, increasing
will also help to tighten the abdominal
you are contracting the abs continuously,
the deeper fibers are relaxing and contracting
while you breathe.
time the deep fibers relax, your abs
will squeeze them in a little more,
making your waist smaller.
this is temporary smallness, you are
teaching the muscles of your abdominals
to tighten up.
anchor your feet (e.g. have someone hold
them down or wedge them under something)
when you're doing any kind of ab work.
This automatically activates the hip flexors
(the muscles that lie just across the
hip joint that serve to bring the thighs
towards the abs).
Feet on a bench
people like to put their feet up on a
bench when doing crunch. Be aware that
this also activates the hip flexors.
Push with heels
you do want to do these, keep your heels
about six inches apart and touch your
will minimize hip flexor involvement.
push down with your heels to activate
the glutes and hamstrings.
muscles directly oppose the action of
the hips flexors and will keep hip flexor
involvement to a minimum
the top of the crunch movement, push with
your heels to tilt the pelvis up slightly,
lifting your tailbone off the floor a
little. This increases lower ab involvement
and increases the contraction by moving
the pelvis closer to the ribcage.
Feet in the air
to crunch with your feet up in the air
and your knees bent like you're sitting.
Lengthwise on a bench
upward instead of towards your knees
for a different way of hitting the muscle.
as though you are trying to press your
face onto the ceiling.
may even wish to reach up with your
hands as though making palm prints on
will help you lead with your shoulders.
has a different feel than the typical
crunch which focuses on simply bring
the ribcage to the pelvis.
doing crunches lying lengthwise on a bench.
Slide yourself down to the end of the
bench to that the upper part of your torso
is hanging off (the edge should be just
below your shoulder blades). This will
give you a greater range of motion by
allowing you to flex your upper back around
the end of the bench. Don't go so far
back that you fall off though.
Increasing crunch difficulty
increase the difficulty of a regular crunch,
place your feet on a low step (about 6
inches), point your toes and press your
heels against the surface of the step
as you crunch. This contracts your hamstrings,
which relaxes your hip flexors, forcing
your abs to work harder.
Errors in the Abdominal Crunch:
Not squeezing the abs
The crunch is an exercise that can be
done in what looks like a correct manner
but resulting in no meaningful work. Be
sure to squeeze the abs very hard at the
top of each crunch. If you can talk to
somebody (and be easily understood) while
doing crunches, you are probably not squeezing
Yanking on the back of the head
on the back of the head can lead to neck
pain. If you have a tendency to do this,
keep your hands off to the sides of your
head without actually letting them touch
Using momentum and elastic rebound
is often done in an effort to get out
of the bottom to return to the top. Each
rep should be performed slowly and under
control. This muscular tension is what
will work the abs best.
Holding the breath
Don't hold your breath all the time when
doing ab work. The abdominals play an
important role in breathing. By limiting
breathing, you will be limiting the work
on your abs.
Interlocking fingers behind the head
Interlocking your fingers behind your
head limits the range of motion of your
abs by tying it to shoulder and lat flexibility.
If you have tight shoulders and do this
you won't be able to stretch back as far.
Keep your hands and forearms off your