- Targets: Abdominals
- Level: Beginner
Crunches have been the mainstay of ab workouts for decades. They target the rectus abdominis, the six-pack muscle that runs along the front of the torso. Building this muscle is one part of developing your core muscles for stability and performance. Crunches can be part of a core strength workout or a total body workout.
The rectus abdominis muscle flexes to bring your shoulders towards your hips. As one of the major core muscles, it provides stability for the body.1 A strong back and abs are the foundation of all your daily movements as well as performance in sports. If you build your rectus abdominis and have low enough body fat, you will see the six-pack abs that many people desire.
- Lie down on the floor on your back and bend your knees, placing your hands behind your head or across your chest. Some people find that crossing the arms over the chest helps them avoid pulling on the neck. However, if you find your neck is strained, you can keep one hand cradling the head. If you are putting your hands behind your head, your fingers should gently cradle your head. The idea is to support your neck without taking away from the work of your abs.
- Pull your belly button towards your spine in preparation for the movement.
- Slowly contract your abdominals, bringing your shoulder blades about 1 or 2 inches off the floor.
- Exhale as you come up and keep your neck straight, chin up. Imagine you’re holding a tennis ball under your chin. That’s about the angle you want to keep the chin the entire time.
- Hold at the top of the movement for a few seconds, breathing continuously.
- Slowly lower back down, but don’t relax all the way.
- Repeat for 15 to 20 repetitions with perfect form for each rep.
STEP 1 – Start in plank position, with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders, forearms on the ground, and feet hip-width apart.
STEP 2 – Tighten your abs and raise your hips into the air as your take small, alternating steps forward with your feet, keeping your elbows stationary. Then, inch your feet back slowly to return to the starting position.
Everyone longs for a slim and trim core. But what’s the most effective way to get there: situps or crunches?
Pros: Work multiple muscles
Situps are a multi-muscle exercise. While they don’t specifically target stomach fat (Note: neither do crunches!), situps actually work the abdominals as well as other muscles groups, including:
- hip flexors
- lower back
Muscle cells are more metabolically active than fat cells. This means they burn calories even at rest. By helping you build muscle, situps will help you burn more calories in the long run. Also, strong core muscles can help improve posture. Good posture can improve appearance without weight loss.
The main drawback to situps is the possibility of lower back and neck injuries. You should ask a doctor for advice if you’ve had any related injuries to prevent strain