Ab crunches are a classic core exercise that you can perform to tighten the muscles of your midsection.They are super convenient and can be done almost anywhere.
It's important to remember that abdominal crunches are not a sit up exercise. They use a very small range of motion up and down to isolate your stomach muscles, building strength and endurance.
Exercises like crunches do a good job of strengthening the muscles that support the lower back and spine.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet planted firmly on the floor and your hands behind your head or across your chest.
With your lower back flat against the floor, engage your abs and lift your shoulder blades about two inches off the floor.
Breathe out as you move up, keep your back and neck fixed in a straight line.
Stop briefly at the top before you slowly lower back down, make sure you keep your abs engaged and continue working the crunch as you move back down.
Repeat the exercise for 12-25 reps.
Kyle Demonstrating the Ab Crunch
Types of Crunches
To increase the intensity of the exercise, there are different types of crunches you can try to make them more challenging and to work different core muscles.
Feet up Crunches. Try lifting your feet off the ground and crossing your ankles before you do your crunches. This will eliminate the stability of having your feet flat on the floor... making your stomach muscles work much harder.
Exercise Ball Crunches. Using any type of fitness ball as a prop creates a challenge as your core works hard to maintain balance as you perform the crunches. Studies have shown that abdominal exercises done on an exercise ball can have twice the impact of doing them without.
Exercise Ball Crunches
Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Cross your arms over your chest or rest them on your stomach.
Keeping your back straight, lean back to tighten abdominal muscles. Hold for 5 seconds then return to starting position. Repeat for desired number of reps.
Kyle Demonstrating the Exercise Ball Crunch
Ab Crunches and Fat Loss
If your goal is to lose belly fat and develop a flat stomach. Simply doing the crunches alone won't give you a "six pack". You can do a ton of crunches and develop rock hard stomach muscles, but if they have a layer of fat covering them they will remain hidden no matter how many crunches you do.
Your best strategy for getting rid of body fat and replacing it with new lean muscle is by following a fairly intense cardio workout 4-5 days a week and strength train 2-3 days a week.
The cardio will have you burning immediate calories working out, and the strength training will help you develop extra muscle to burn more calories all through your day. Remember, the more muscle you train, the more calories you'll burn.
Tips for Ab Crunches
To make the exercise more difficult, suspend your feet straight out in the air in front of you.
If you place your hands behind your head, make sure you don't pull your head to raise your shoulder blades off of the ground.
Keep your lower back flat on the floor throughout the entire exercise.
Being lower to the ground, the bosu ab crunch is a great beginner core exercise utilizing a fitness ball.
Benefits of Ab Crunches
Less Back Pain: These crunches can target and strengthen smaller muscle areas that can sometimes be hard to reach. These supporting muscles of the spine and lower back area can assume some of the work load the lower back has been handling. This can help to lessen ongoing back pain many of us have.
Better Body Posture: If you want to look slim and in good shape, it all starts with your posture. The best way to develop better posture is by strengthening your core muscles which are the muscles that connect your upper and lower body.
Stronger Core: When you work your ab muscles with crunches or other core exercises, you help the muscles in that area to work together in a coordinated fashion. A stronger core can greatly improve your balance and coordination.
Convenience: Since you don't need any equipment to do crunches and other body weight exercises, you can do a regular ab workout anytime and anywhere.
I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.