Crunches is a basic exercise intended to develop the abdominal muscles. There are two categories of abdominal exercises: straight crunches and reverse. Straight crunches mean twisting the body to the pelvis, and the reverse, on the contrary, the pelvis to the body. And it is more correct to say twisting, not lifting, because if you lift the body to the pelvis, in a straight amplitude, then the abdominal muscles will not be able to stress in full. When performing the exercise, you should twist the shoulder girdle to the pelvis, and not raise it to the knees. The back should be rounded and not remain straight at the same time. This is the most important point in all abdominal exercises.
This exercise belongs to the category of straight crunches for abs and purposefully works out the rectus abdominis muscle. But, by slightly changing the technique, you can also include the oblique abdominal muscles in the work. It is best to perform abdominal exercises at the end of the workout, since if you load the abs at the beginning of the workout, then it will be problematic for you to perform exercises in which the abs stabilize the body. This is especially true for deadlift and barbell squat.
Varieties and technique of crunches
Crunches can be performed on the floor, on a bench, on a fitball, in a special machine, and even on a cable crossover. The most common version of the exercise is crunches on the bench.
They are performed on a special bench, which has rollers for fixing the legs. The bench can be either straight or inclined. When doing the exercise on a bench with a negative angle, the abs will experience more stress than a horizontal bench.
As I’ve said, while performing the exercise, your main task is to twist the body to the pelvis, and not raise it to the knees, so the load of the rectus abdominis muscle will be maximum. At the bottom point of an amplitude, do not throw your back on the bench, keep the abdominal tension throughout the entire set. To include the oblique abdominal muscles in the work, you need to perform diagonal twists. That is, with the elbow of the left hand, you need to move to the right thigh, and vice versa.
If this exercise is easy for you, you can make it heavier by picking up weight (start with 5 kg) and doing the exercise with it in your hands.
Crunches on the floor
This is the home of the exercise. Before starting, you should lay a mat under your back. Then you need to lie on the mat, put your feet on the floor and begin to perform the exercise, twisting the body to the pelvis. The exercise is the most traumatic among all the variations, since the spine at the lowest point will be in an unnatural position. Accordingly, it will receive unwanted load, which can lead to injury to the lumbar spine. To avoid this, place a softening roller under the lower back, for example a low pillow. This will minimize the chance of injury.
Crunches on the floor are excellent for abdominal muscles. To keep fit, it can be done anywhere and anytime. Even the cat understands this. However, there are also cats that prevent the masters from developing the abs, throwing TVs and guitars at them 🙂
With such a cat, you cannot see the ripped abs, you can only get bruises 🙂 Well, now let’s get back to our crunches.
This is the another variation of the exercise. For this type, you will need a fitball (stability ball). The advantage is that unwanted load will not go to the spine, due to the possibility of ball deflection. And the disadvantage is that in this variation it is more difficult to maintain balance. During the exercise, you will need to catch the body to prevent falling down. This will disturb you from concentrating on the work of the abdominal muscles.
For such crunches, you need to go to cable crossover in the gym. Set the required weight, hang the rope handle, then grab it with both hands and put your hands behind your head so that the cable crossover does not interfere with performing. Next, you need to pull back the rope handle, kneel down (or stay standing) and begin to perform the exercise, twisting the body to the pelvis.
As well as in other variations, you can perform both straight twists and diagonal ones, including the oblique abdominal muscles to the work.
The main disadvantage of this type is that your legs are not fixed. And if you set heavy weight, then you will be lifted off the floor. And the plus is that the muscles of the press will be in stress during the entire set, due to the tension of the cable. In addition, the leg muscles in this variation are turned off from work, which allows for greater isolation of the abdominal muscles.
Crunches in the abs machine
In some gyms there are special machines for working out the abdominal muscles. Usually, you take a sitting position in it, set the desired weight and begin to perform all the same crunches. The advantage of this simulator is more isolation of the abdominal muscles, due to turning leg muscles off from the work and the creation of the correct range of motion by the machine.
Crunches on a punching bag
For well-trained athletes, you can try this type of crunch. The exercise is difficult, in order not to fall, you will have to hang on the punching bag with your legs. Because of this, concentration is lost, and you think more about how not to fall, and not about the work of the abs.
I advise you to focus your attention on the classic crunches on the bench, this is a very effective exercise for developing the abdominal muscles. But, for a variety of training, you can sometimes perform certain variations of the exercise.
And the most important thing, doing abdominal exercises, you do not burn belly fat. You can train the abs as much as you like, use a variety of exercises, but if your percentage of body fat is high, you will not have sculpted abs. It may be, but it will be hidden by the fat layer. To remove it, you will have to maintain a diet for lossing weight, that is, to create a calorie deficit.
Tips on performing crunches without mistakes
1) Breathe correctly while doing the exercise, and do not hold your breath. When bending the body, exhale, when unbending, inhale.
2) Concentrate on the work of the muscles, work within the amplitude, feeling the stress and burning of the abdominal muscles.
3) Place your arms correctly. The closer the hands are to the pelvis, the easier it is to perform the exercise, respectively, the less load on the abs.
4) Do not lock your hands behind your head. It is likely that you will involuntaryly try to cheat helping to twist your body with hands. Therefore, the hands need only be slightly touching the back of the neck.
5) At the top point of amplitude, pause for 1-2 seconds to reach the peak stress of the abs.
6) After completing the set, you can lie with your back on the bench and bend slightly in the lower back to stretch the rectus abdominis muscle.