How to Do a Crunch

Crunches are another classic exercise. While similar to sit-ups, this maneuver specifically targets the abdominals making it an isolation exercise. They are a popular choice for beginners due to the fact that they require no cumbersome equipment to complete. Some people consider the benefits of a crunch not worth the potential strain to the neck and back, but they can be beneficial as long as you are mindful of maintaining proper form during the movement.

Stronger abdominals are an important part of a strong and healthy core and can help to promote better posture. A stronger core can also help to reduce the risk of back injuries, as well as generally increasing the ease with which everyday activities can be completed.

How To

  • To perform a standard crunch, lie on your back on the floor with your feet flat on the floor at about hip width apart and knees slightly bent. Hands can be placed by the side of the head or crossed over your chest.
  • Take a breath, engage your abdominals and exhale as you lift your upper body off the floor. Lift just high enough to bring your shoulder blades off the floor.
  • To finish the exercise, inhale as you slowly lower your upper body back to the floor.


A good goal is to work toward two or three sets of 10–15 repetitions. Give your core one day in between to recover, and start out slowly if you are just beginning to strengthen your abdominals.


Bicycle crunch: This variation takes the difficulty up a notch by activating the obliques as well as the abdominals. Instead of keeping the feet planted, you will raise both feet until the knees are at 90 degrees. The hands will be held at the side of the face, and you will start with the upper body already lifted from the floor. To complete the exercise, you’ll focus on contracting the core as you bring your opposing knee and elbows together one at a time (right elbow to left knee, and then left elbow to right knee).

One leg extended: To alleviate some of the strain on the back, get into the standard crunch start position and then tuck your hands under your lower back instead of by your head or across your chest. Extend one leg out and complete your crunch.  

Cautionary Notes

Make sure not to pull on your neck if you have your hands at the sides of your head. Doing so can cause excessive strain to the neck and spine. If you find yourself continuously pulling on your neck, try crossing your arms over your chest.

Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed during the exercise; otherwise, you may end up straining the muscles in your neck.

 Due to the flexion in the spine that is experienced while performing a crunch, those who have suffered from past back injuries, or who have limited motion, should be particularly cautious when doing crunches. Cease the exercise immediately if you experience back pain.

To get the full benefit of the exercise, make sure to move slowly. Performing crunches as quickly as possible may look impressive, but this is where a person’s form starts to slip and the potential for injury presents itself.

More Abdomen and obliques Exercises

Leg raise
Russian twist

More Crunch Related Resources

Are Crunches Effective For Building A Six-Pack? | Coach
4 Ways to Do Crunches – wikiHow
The Best Ab Exercises You Can Do
How to Do an Abdominal Crunch: Techniques, Benefits, Variations
How to Do Crunches – dummies
How to Do Crunches: 5 Mistakes Everyone Makes | Fitness Magazine
Crunches | Exercise Videos & Guides |

Related Videos