Crunch is the basic exercise for training Abs (Rectus Abdominis Muscle). Today, I will teach you how to do it.
First, look at the form. Lying, Bending legs. Then the move is moving up the Upper back (Portion above Scapular). Pause and slowly come down. Lower back should always stick to the ground. This exercise focus on your Rectus Abdominis Muscle, especially the upper portion (upper abs). Of course, other portions of the abs are involved. Let’s take a closer look at the execution.
Tuck your chin in the whole process, no matter you are curling up or coming down. Don’t let your chin loose. Otherwise, your neck will be sore and be more vulnerable.
For newbie, even if you are tucking your chin, you will still feel the soreness around your neck. So, how to solve this problem? In fact, you can support your head by both hands to reduce some weight. Remember, just use a moderate effort. Don’t use the hands for pulling up your head & body.
The placement of your hands determine your intensity of the exercise. If you put your hands closer to the Centre of Gravity, aka, your stomach, the easier the exercise. For example:
- Put your hands on the knee, which is the easiest.
- Harder: On your chest.
- Even Harder: Side of your ears.
- Hardest: Up & High above your head.
Many people think that only using Decline Bench or Weighted can increase the intensity of the exercise. In fact, just by adjusting the hand positions have already done the work. Which position/intensity is suitable for you? It depends on your ability. The requirement is that you can do Full Range of Motion with 10 reps+. Then it is a fit.
Just Place your leg just like Sit Up. Bent. You can also lift them up. Both are quite similar. In fact, both exercises help you with Posterior Pelvic Tilt (PPT). The posture of PPT benefits the full contraction of Abs.
If your legs are straight on the floor, then it is not good fit. Because it makes your lower back arch naturally. Remember, we have to stick our lower back to the ground. Otherwise, it is not good for it.
Range of Motion
As mentioned earlier: Just move the upper back (above scapular) by curling up. This contracts the abs, especially the Rectus Abdominis Muscle (6 PACK ABS). Remember to tighten your belly first by contracting the Transverse Abdominis Muscle (TVA) before curling up.
Let’s take a look at the Range of Motion.
- First, if just the head/neck is moving, then the range is too small.
- We should move a wider range of motion. Meaning, your upper back should be curling up and leaving the ground while keeping the lower back to the ground. That’s it.
- If your lower back leaves the ground, It is not very good. Yes, a slight gap before lower back & ground will intensify the contraction of ABS, but also increase the pressure of the lower back.
- If your lower back leave the ground completely, then you are doing a SIT UP instead of Crunch. SIT UP, mentioned before, Is not good for joint health of your backbone/lower back. Besides, it is not effective for ABS as well. Because it involves a lot of strength from Hip Flexors & Quad. That’s why your feet need to hold on to something for your to do. The whole execution involves a lot of other muscle rather than just ABS, so it is not a good move for ABS.
Let’s take a look at the recommended ROM. Just curl up the upper back. So, how high should we curl up? This depends on:
- Your strength.
- Your ability to flex your lower back. Aka. Flexibility. Of course, the higher, the better the contraction. And yet, don’t force it. If your flexibility is not good enough, your lower back will be sore very soon. And you can’t pause at the top. Not a solid form.
First, we should test our range of motion, and just get good at the execution first. Advance when you think you can do a wider range of motion.
Most of them are mentioned earlier. Including:
- Doing a Sit Up instead of Crunch. Lower Back Lift Up too much, which is also bad for lower back.
- On the other hand, very small ROM by just curling up the head/neck. It is not effective as well.
- Straight legs are placed on the ground.
- Hands pulling your head for easier execution. Remember, they are for support only. Just to reduce some weight of your head.
- Besides, some use their hands for momentum. This is not recommended as well.
- Tempo/Speed. Too fast will not be effective. Just slow, Pause at the Top, and come down slowly.
- Some people are too aggressive and use the weight/decline one. I only recommend these when you can handle the hardest version just mentioned.
In general, 4 sets are recommended for Crunches. 20-25 reps for experienced. 12-15 reps for newbie. You have to feel the contraction of every rep. In the middle/last of the set, you should experience tightness, sore and burning. There you are.
How many times per week? It completely depends on your desire for ABS. Maximum: Everyday. But I think 3 times/wk is good enough. You need more ABS exercise than just Crunches. 2-3 times/week is good enough.
When you get better with Crunch, you can do other variations like what I just demonstrated right now. All of these are crunch-related exercises.
Training more crunch will strengthen your ABS and also your belly (TVA). Many ABS exercises require first tighten the belly (TVA), Crunch included. Belly In vs Belly out is quite different. Tighten your belly will train your TVA. When TVA is strong/tight, your belly will become smaller, just like losing weight. Of course, it doesn’t mean you have lost some fat. Just mean that your CORE/belly is tighten. Better Appearance.
If you really a well-defined ABS definition, your Body Fat % should be low enough for ABS. If your Body Fat % is quite high, then you must incorporate some Fat Loss Plan/Exercise/Diet. If you a just a skinny/lean guy with little fat. Then Crunch alone is good enough.
I think all levels of people should add Crunch to your Abs routine. Basic but Effective. Don’t neglect the basics. Alright, that’s the end of the tutorial. Thanks and Goodbye.