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The Ultimate Guide to the Crunch Exercise (Build Incredible Abs)

The crunch is one of the most popular abdominal exercises.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to do it properly, its benefits and drawbacks, other exercises you can use in place of it, and more.

Core and Abs Workouts Best Sit Up VariationsSource: Brian Jones on Unsplash

Here’s everything you need to know about the movement and whether they’re right for your workout goals.

What is the Crunch Exercise?

The movement is a (usually) bodyweight exercise that targets your core muscles.

The core includes all of the abdominal muscles, which include: transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis and obliques.

These muscles work together to stabilize your spine and pelvis during movement, so it’s important to strengthen them with various types of exercises if you want to improve your body composition and prevent injury.

How to do a Crunch

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lift your shoulder blades off the floor.
  • Inhale and brace your core.
  • Slowly lift your torso up from the floor.
  • Keep your neck in line with your spine as you do this exercise, and keep breathing normally throughout.
  • At the top, with your abs tense, pause for a second then lower yourself back to the starting position.

Benefits of the Crunch

It is a core strengthening exercise that will help improve your posture, relieve back pain, and increase abdominal muscle tone.

It also improves flexibility and balance while reducing the risk of injury. The crunch also helps with weight loss as it burns calories while you are performing the exercise.

What Muscles Does the Crunch Work?

The movement is an excellent upper body exercise that targets the rectus abdominis, the obliques, and the transverse abdominis.

It also works your hip flexors, quadriceps, gluteus maximus, deltoids and other smaller muscles.

Is the Crunch a Good Exercise?

If you’re looking for a core exercise, the movement may be for you.

It’s a great way to strengthen and tone your midsection, especially if done correctly.

However, they can also cause injuries if performed incorrectly so it’s important not only knowing how but also why before starting any new workout routine including this one!

Crunch vs Sit Up: What’s the Difference?

  • Crunch: This exercise targets the abs to a greater degree
  • Sit Up: This exercise works the abs, hip flexors and some muscles in the legs.

The two are often used interchangeably, however they are different exercises.  

Variations

The movement can be performed in a number of ways, usually based on the equipment available.

two people do abs workout crunchSource: RODNAE Productions from Pexels

For example, if you have a medicine ball to use for resistance, you can perform the crunch with your feet on the floor and your knees bent at 90 degrees. This variation is known as the side crunch and it involves rotating at the waist so that one shoulder is lower than the other while lying flat on your back.

When using dumbbells instead of a medicine ball, this exercise becomes known as a weighted crunch or superman crunch because it requires you to lift both legs up into an angled position.

If using cables in place of weights, this exercise can also be called an alternating cable crunch because it requires alternating between pulling each end toward yourself during each repetition (the most common method).

Alternatives

There are multiple variations on the crunch that can help you work different areas of your core. These include:

  • Leg Raise
  • Leg Lowering
  • Leg Raise and Lowering
  • Leg Raise and Twist
  • Leg Lowering and Twist
  • Leg Raise and Lowering and Twist (one complete turn)

Sets and Reps for the Crunch

For muscle hypertrophy, aim for 3 to five sets of 8 – 12 reps with minimum rest between each set.

Common Mistakes for the Crunch

You may not be getting the most out of your crunch if you’re making any of these mistakes:

  • Not keeping your back straight. Your hips shouldn’t be higher than your shoulders, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to pull up to reach for the sky.
  • Not maintaining an arch in your lower back throughout the entire movement (you should feel it on each rep).
  • Not holding at peak contraction for a full second or longer; think about counting to five or six before lowering yourself back down into a relaxed position between reps.
  • Not breathing properly during the exercise—it helps keep everything in sync!
  • Using too much range of motion; take smaller bites instead of doing big swings!

Does the Crunch Build Abs and a Six Pack?

It is a great exercise for building your abs, but it is not the only exercise that does this.

Combine it with different core based exercises that will attack and strengthen your core in different ways for the best results.

Heavy Squats are also an excellent way to build a strong core and six pack.

Remember that an intelligent nutrition plan is an absolute must if you want to achieve a six pack.

Is Diet Important to Get a Six Pack?

Yes. If you want to get a six pack, your diet is important.

Calorie deficit and exercise are the two important methods of fat loss, but they’re not mutually exclusive. Combining both will give you better results than just one or the other—you’ll burn more fat by using both ways of losing weight.

Eating less food while exercising more will lead to weight loss if those two things happen at roughly equal rates: when calories in are lowered and calories out are increased at about the same rate (which means more calories burned). You need to operate in a caloric deficit if you want to lose weight.

Protein helps prevent hunger pangs by keeping blood sugar levels steady and helps muscles to recover.

Fibre helps keep your digestion regular so that nutrients from food can be absorbed properly into your bloodstream rather than being stored as fat on your gut like an extra layer of insulation (actually this would be good for winter).

Vegetables have lots of fibre too, but also provide vitamins and phytochemicals which may protect against certain diseases—they’re also low in calories so they don’t contribute much toward how many calories someone eats per day.

Can Beginners Do the Crunch Exercise?

Yes, beginners can do the exercise. In fact, most people should start with modified crunches to get started.

Beginners should do three sets of ten reps and include the crunch exercise two to three times per week.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a number of different ways to perform the exercise.

You can vary your crunch workout by adjusting your body position and also by using different equipment.

How should you go about doing this?

The best way to use any exercise is to learn how to do it well first using only your body weight, and then gradually add resistance or make it more difficult over time. It’s also a good idea to vary the exercises that work similar muscles in order to avoid injury from overuse or repetitive motion.

Learn More

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Barbell Curl – A Must-Have Exercise to Increase Your Biceps
Skull Crushers – Technique, Benefits and Variations
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