How to do the perfect Abdominal Crunch

Abdominal crunches are a key exercise that will help you keep your stomach flat and sleek, and although they look pretty simple, it’s easy to pick up strains and get nasty loewr back pain if you have poor technique when you’re doing them.  There’s a few different types of crunch you can do – straight, oblique, even inverted, but in this example, we’ll focus on a simple flat crunch – ideal to help with a toned six-pack stomach.

How to do the perfect abdominal crunch

First things first, make sure that you’ve warmed up a little, and done some stretching to make yourself as flexible as possible.  Focus on your core areas and lower back to ensure that your body is ready to exercise.

When you do them right, crunches allow you to focus intensively on your abdominal muscles but that doesn’t mean your abs are the only muscle group you’ll exercise.  You’ll also find that your legs are tensed to support your body.  Similarly the muscles around your lower back will also get a work out as they act in concert with your abdominals through the movement of a crunch.

Crunch Starting Position

Correct starting position for a crunch

For comfort and to protect your back, it’s a good idea to work out on a mat.  This will help you avoid any unnecessary pain during the exercise.

Perfect Crunch – Step 1

Start by lying flat on your mat and relaxing your body.  Pull in your stomach and press your lower back on the floor to straighten your spine as much as possible.

Perfect Crunch – Step 2

Breathe in normally, and then tense your stomach muscles, pulling your shoulders up off the floor while breathing out.  Your target is to get your shoulders no more than 3 inches or so off the ground while holding your abdominal muscles tight to control the lift.

Perfect Crunch – Step 3

Hold your position above the ground for a few seconds – you should feel the tension in the upper abdominals at this point,  try and breathe normally as you hold your shoulders up.

Crunch finishing position

Crunch finishing position

Perfect Crunch – Step 4

Lie backwards, but control the movement with your abs – don’t relax – you should feel the tension throughout the movement.  Try not to go back all the way to a lying

Perfect Crunch – Step 5

Repeat the process 15-20 times in a set, and then as you develop more strength and control in the muscle groups, work up to doing 3 sets.

When you do crunches properly, you’ll really feel the benefits in your core muscles and get a flatter stomach which will also help to improve your posture.  Try combining them with a planking exercise to work the lower abdominals to boost your overall core strength.