Crunches are bodyweight exercises that you can do anywhere without using any equipment. Trainers highly recommend them for toning the muscles and building a strong and ripped core.
Though crunches do not help burn too many calories or burn fat, they help enhance the density and flexibility of muscles, improve body posture and boost mobility.
Regular or abdominal crunches benefits include building abs (medically known as rectus abdominis). However, it is not very effective on other muscle groups in the area. Therefore, many variations such as reverse crunch, bicycle crunch, oblique crunch, vertical leg crunch, etc., have been developed that help target the obliques (far left and right of abs), pelvis, lower back, hips, and spine.
Amazing Crunches Benefits
Following are crunches benefits—
1. Strong Core
Your body relies a lot on your core for activities such as walking, sitting, lifting, etc. Hence, crunches target various muscles in an area, strengthen them and synchronise them better. This helps your body perform all those activities easily in a balanced and stable manner.
2. Improved Posture
A weak core often leads to back pain and muscle injuries, due to which your posture can turn bad. Crunches are a great way of improving your posture by working on your core and strengthening it. It also helps reduce back pain and gives relaxation.
However, you should consult a doctor or professional trainer before doing crunches if you have a bad posture from an injury or an accident.
3. Stronger Muscles
Doing strength training exercises, crunches help you build muscle mass, which improves your strength and is also considered to be visually appealing. Therefore, crunches are excellent if you want to build abs. You can also add on weights to build more muscle mass.
4. Weight Loss
Crunches are high-intensity exercises that require a lot of strength and energy. Though it may not be as much as cardio or other exercises, the significant amount of energy used means calories burnt up. This ultimately results in slowly losing weight.
Another way crunches help in weight loss is by strengthening the muscles required to lose weight.
5. Better Cardiovascular Health
Being highly intense exercises, crunches lead to fast functioning of the heart, which is responsible for various important body functions. Doing crunches regularly can train your heart to intensify those functions to sync with your body at various times. This leads to a healthier and more effective cardiovascular system.
6. No Equipment Required
As crunches are bodyweight exercises, there is no need for equipment to perform them at basic and intermediate levels. However, advanced training individuals may add weights for more strength to intensify the workouts.
How to Do Crunches
If you want to develop washboard abs and a strong core, crunches are the way to go. However, crunches should be done correctly and under professional supervision to avoid injuries, especially if you’re a beginner.
Here are a few variations of crunches that you can do to work up all of your core muscles:
1. Basic Crunch
Lie flat on your back, bend your knees and put your hands behind your head. Now pull your abdominal, head, and shoulder up and curl up, moving forward towards the knee, move back and then repeat.
2. Reverse Crunch
Lie flat on your back, with your hands placed under your spine for support. Flatten your feet on the floor while your knees are bent. Lift your upper back and legs at 90 degrees, pull them towards your belly, return in a controlled manner and then repeat. The variation of reverse crunches benefits the lower abdominal muscles.
3. Bicycle Crunch
Lie flat on your back, bend your knees and put your hands behind your head. Stretch your left leg forward and pull your right knee towards your chest while extending your left elbow to meet that knee.
Return and do the same with your left knee and right elbow. Then repeat until a cyclic motion is created. Bicycle crunches benefits are centred on the rectus abdominis and oblique muscles.
4. Scissor Crunch
Lie flat on your back, stretch out your legs and put your hands near your hips. Lift your upper body and then the legs. Alternatively, lift your legs higher and bring them down. Then repeat until a scissor motion is created. This exercise benefits the rectus abdominis and leg muscles.
- Brad J Schoenfeld, November 2016; Abdominal Crunches Are/Are Not a Safe and Effective Exercise - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309885300_Abdominal_Crunches_AreAre_Not_a_Safe_and_Effective_Exercise.
- David R. Clark, Michael I. Lambert, December 2018; Contemporary perspectives of core stability training for dynamic athletic performance: a survey of athletes, coaches, sports science and sports medicine practitioners - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6047949/