Whenever somebody seeks our advice on the best exercises to tone the abs, abdominal crunches are our first recommendation. As the abdominal muscles are the main part of the core muscle group, you can efficiently train your abs.
This isolated exercise is perfect for people who are looking to get those aesthetic six abs. Besides that, it also strengthens the core muscles, improves the flexibility of muscles and overall posture.
As you can see, this exercise brings several types of benefits to the table. So to reap every last of it, you must perform it with the correct form and technique. To give you a complete idea, we have enunciated all the necessary information about abdominal crunches in the following article.
Muscles Worked by the Abdominal Crunch
Working and training your core muscles is not child’s play. It will only be possible once you perform the abdominal crunches correctly.
The primary muscles targeted by this exercise are the rectus abdominis, transverses abdominus, and obliques. Let us learn about these muscles in detail.
The rectus abdominis muscle is also known as the abdominal muscle. It is a paired muscle that runs vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the human abdomen. It is responsible for moving the body between the pelvis and the ribcage.
The transverses abdominus is a flat abdominal muscle that is under the internal abdominal obliques. It is used to support the lumbopelvic region. Think of this muscle as a corset that supports the internal organs. It stabilizes the pelvis and lumbar spine to avoid any improper movements.
Lastly, the obliques are on the sides of the abdominals and stretch from the hips to the rib cage. It is made up of two muscles: internal obliques and external obliques. This muscle helps with the aesthetic part of your body along with your posture. It also helps in preventing any injuries in the lower back or shoulders.
Benefits of Abdominal Crunch
Apart from giving you your desired six-abs, you can also get the following benefits by including abdominal crunches in your workout:
When you work on your abdominal muscles, you strengthen and develop your core muscles. This directly affects your posture and pushes your body to stand straighter. Apart from that, it also stabilizes your trunk.
Once you get in the habit of doing this exercise daily, you will notice a significant improvement in your posture.
Abdominal crunches are known to burn calories, thereby helping you get a healthier body. According to several studies, a person who performs 30 crunches in a minute ends up burning five calories. With more number of sets, you can burn enough calories for the day.
Get a Toned Core
As this exercise also targets your core muscles, you strengthen your core strength. Not only will this be useful in performing other compound exercises, but you will also get lean abs.
Your balance significantly improves due to ab crunches as this exercise strengthens the muscles in the abdominal cavity. This will be useful while doing several types of day-to-day activities like walking, playing sports, dancing, etc.
How to Perform the Abdominal Crunch?
As abdominal crunches are central to all kinds of physical exercises, it is imperative that you do them correctly. Go according to the following steps, and you will not make any mistakes:
- Lie on your back on the floor. You can use a yoga mat for more comfort.
- Bend your knees and keep your feet firmly on the floor.
- You can either keep your hands behind your head, on your chest or sideways. Some even prefer putting their arms forward in such a way that they are parallel to the quadriceps. As this is a personal choice, go with something that suits you the most.
- Pull your belly button towards your spine and get ready for the exercise.
- Keeping your abs tight, curl up while pushing your shoulder blades a few inches above the ground. Exhale while curling up.
- Keep your abdominals pulled in, and your chin slightly bent.
- Hold the position for one to two seconds and lower back down.
- Do not allow your body to relax while it touches the ground.
- Once you reach your starting position, repeat the process.
Common Mistakes to Avoid While Performing Abdominal Crunch
If you want to train your muscles properly, you must avoid the following mistakes while performing the abdominal crunches:
Perform on a Flat Surface
Ab crunches will require you to pull into your abs throughout the movements. A flat surface is a prerequisite for that. Do not try to perform this exercise on a soft or wobbly surface.
You can either do it on the floor, on a mat, or even on a flat bench.
Keep your Back Straight
When you lie down on the floor, it should touch the ground entirely. If we paraphrase it, there should be no gap between the ground and the lumbar spine. Keep it flat on the floor throughout the exercise.
When you curl up, your neck should remain in the original alignment. If you flex it or bend it forward, you might go home with a strained neck. Instead of moving your neck, you must only tilt your chin.
Along with the prohibited neck movement, your shoulder blades must never roll forward.
Range of Motion
An improper range of motion can negate the entire benefit of this exercise. Curl only till you contract your muscles. Curling anything more than that will not help you train your ab muscles.
Resting on the Floor
You are not supposed to rest on the floor after one rep. The tension in the abs must remain throughout the entire set. Never lose the tightness in the abs, or else your abdominal muscles will not get trained, even after 100s of sets.
Sets, Reps, Programming Recommendations for Abdominal Crunch
Doing this exercise alone will not get you abs. So if you believe that performing fifty reps of this exercise will build your abs, you are highly mistaken.
We recommend four sets of ten reps each. This will give you enough energy and time to perform other abdominal exercises.
Variations of Abdominal Crunch
No one exercise will train your abs entirely. You must include the following variations to target your muscles from all sides:
- Bicycle Crunch
- V-sit Crunch
- Standing Crunch
- Cross Sit-up
- Kickboxing Crunch
- Reverse Crunch
- Vertical Crunch
- Crunch Clap
- Crunch Frogs
- Oblique Side Crunch
- Double Crunch
- Side Plank Crunch
Safety & Precautions for Abdominal Crunch
We have seen 8 out of 10 people leave the gym with soreness after performing abdominal crunches, especially in the beginning. This is because they do not adhere to the precautionary tips and safety measures. If you do not want to fall in that category, go through the following tips:
- Always lie on a flat surface that will support your back throughout the exercise.
- Maintain a proper form while contracting as well as while returning to the starting position.
- Never lose the tension in your abs.
- Curl till you feel a contraction in your abdominal muscles.
- Do not bend your neck forward or bring your elbows close to each other.
- Lock in your shoulder blades.
- Do not relax your body after one rep.
- Do this exercise along with other ab exercises to get maximum results.
- Maintain a proper diet along with performing this exercise.
- Avoid doing this exercise if you have a back injury and consult a doctor.
Alternatives of Abdominal Crunch
Are you tired of doing the same old crunches every day? Diversify your workout session by doing the following alternatives of abdominal crunches:
- Dolphin Push-Ups
- Side plank
- Hip dips
- Ab wheel rollouts
- Leg dips
- Flutter kicks
- Russian Twists
- Renegade Row
- Single Arm Farmers Carry