How to perform Ab Crunches
STEP 1: Lie on your back (on the mat or on the floor) and bend your knees with feet flat on the floor. Place your hands by your ears.
STEP 2: Keeping your lower back on the floor, curl your shoulders forward by slowly lifting your head, shoulders, and upper back. Breathe out as you lift and breathe in as you lower down to tense the abdominals. To keep your head in line with your spine, maintain a space the size of your closed fist under your chin. Hold each repetition for 4-5 seconds.
Video: Ab Crunches
Muscles Targeted: Rectus Abdominis(Abs), External Oblique, Internal Olique
Points to Remember
1. Keep 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.
2. Most people forget the negative or lowering part of the crunch. Fight gravity on the way down to really get a burn.
3. At 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 the abs.
• This will intensify the contraction, increasing your results.
• It will also help to tighten the abdominal area.
• While you are contracting the abs continuously, the deeper fibers are relaxing and contracting while you breathe.
• Each time the deep fibers relax, your abs will squeeze them in a little more, making your waist smaller.
• While this is temporary smallness, you are teaching the muscles of your abdominals to tighten up.
4. Never 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).
5. Some people like to put their feet up on a bench when doing crunch. Be aware that this also activates the hip flexors.
• If you do want to do these, keep your heels about six inches apart and touch your toes together.
• This will minimize hip flexor involvement.
• Also, push down with your heels to activate the glutes and hamstrings.
• These muscles directly oppose the action of the hips flexors and will keep hip flexor involvement to a minimum
6. At 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.
7. Try to crunch with your feet up in the air and your knees bent like you’re sitting.
• Crunch upward instead of towards your knees for a different way of hitting the muscle.
• Imagine as though you are trying to press your face onto the ceiling.
• You may even wish to reach up with your hands as though making palm prints on the ceiling.
• This will help you lead with your shoulders.
• This has a different feel than the typical crunch which focuses on simply bring the ribcage to the pelvis.
8. Try 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.
9. To 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.
Variations: Ab Crunches
Exercise Ball Crunch