The crunch is the most basic abdominal exercise that an individual can perform. This exercise targets the rectus abdominus, more commonly referred to as the “abs” or the “six pack”.
Many people desire to have that ripped stomach and the crunch is one exercise that may be used to accomplish that goal.
The rectus abdominus is located above the waist line and below the pectoralis major, more commonly known as the chest or the “pecs”.
The rectus abdominus is responsible for the flexion of the lumbar portion of the spine. During the crunch, the obliques are involved in assisting the rectus abdominus in the exercise movement.
How To Perform
- Begin by laying flat on the ground.
- Use a mat to provide extra cushion.
- Bend knees and place feet flat on the ground.
- Place hands behind the head or across the chest.
- Flex the waist and raise upper back off the ground.
- Keep lower back on the ground at all times.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
- Perform this exercise for the desired amount of sets and reps.
There are numerous variations for making the crunch more difficult or challenging. Here are a few common variations:
- Raised Feet – Raising the feet off the ground, places an extra emphasis on the lower region of the rectus abdominus and the hip flexors.
- Incline Crunch – This variation of the crunch is performed on a decline bench that has a foot pad to lock in the legs. The declined angle provides more of a resistance when performing the crunch.
- Weighted Crunch – A weighted crunch adds more resistance in the form of a plate or dumbbell. Typically the plate is placed across the chest while performing the crunch.
- Crunch Machine – There are several variations of crunch machines in the gym. Some are flat while others are seated. These machines provide added resistance and help to keep individuals properly aligned.
With all exercises, safety and proper form are vital to a successful workout. Make sure to pay attention to the following:
- Do not raise the lower back off the ground during a crunch as this can potentially lead to low back injuries.
- Crunches on the ground are not recommended for elderly individuals or for those who have problems getting up off the ground.
- If placing hands behind the head during the crunch, never push on the head when raising upper torso off the ground.
- If using additional weight, make sure to perform the crunch smoothly and slowly to prevent losing control of the weight.
- If the ground is too hard on the back, use a bench or a crunch machine.
- Make sure to breath during the crunching motion to prevent any light headedness or blackouts.
- Incline crunches are not recommended for those who suffer from dizziness or have high blood pressure.
- Always get up slowly when performing crunches on the ground or a flat bench. This will prevent a sudden rush of blood throughout the body which can cause lightheadedness and loss of balance.
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