Crunches Exercise: Forms, Variations, and Benefits

Crunches Exercise: Forms, Variations, and Benefits

Feb 01, 2024

It’s time for all the fitness enthusiasts, including me, to gather around and discuss why core workouts and crunches exercise have become so popular these days and how every other Instagram influencer is milking views around this topic. The core is the powerhouse of the human body. And, it's not really about achieving an Instagram-worthy six-pack physique, through crunches exercise, but about laying a solid foundation of stability that will improve your entire exercise routine. Take your core to be the ultimate shield of your body, protecting balance and posture in all your movements, from squats to deadlifts and even desk sitting in the office. 

And if you think it’s only about strength, it’s also about getting rid of that nagging back pain that you feel sitting in your white-collar jobs. A strong core functions as a shock absorber for your spine, transforming you into becoming better at fighting daily ailments. And would you not want to say goodbye to backaches? Well, if yes, crunches exercise and core workouts can work wonders for you. Flexibility is another added advantage, with your newfound core flexibility.

So, let's put aside the misconceptions of boring crunches exercise and invest in core training as it is the secret sauce to becoming a fitter, healthier, and happier version of you. Get those core muscles moving with the below-mentioned crunches exercise, and show the world the healthier human you’ll become.

What are Crunches Exercises? 

Crunch exercise, a common abdominal exercise routine, is a fitness enthusiast’s favourite for all the good reasons. This no-equipment workout is user-friendly and appropriate for both newbies and fitness enthusiasts, making it a gym mainstay. Crunches, which are specifically designed to target the abs, are extremely efficient at shaping those chiselled six-pack abs. The simplicity of crunches exercise makes them more accessible, while their versatility allows for a wide range of fitness levels. However, to maximise results and reduce the danger of strain, crunches must be performed with the appropriate form(make sure this advice lives in your head rent-free). 

So enjoy the simplicity, feel the heat, and make sure each crunch puts you one step closer to a stronger, more defined core.

Benefits of Crunches Exercise

Crunches can have a variety of benefits, including improved sports performance and physical appearance. It’s time to learn the benefits of crunches and why you should include them in your daily workout routine.

  • A bliss for your abdominal Strength! Crunches work the abdominal muscles, which helps to strengthen and tone your core.
  • Chiselled Six-Pack Abs in the making! Incorporating crunches into your routine regularly can help you develop well-defined abdominal muscles and achieve the coveted six-pack look.
  • Crunches are versatile workouts that can be customised to meet different fitness levels and goals.
  • No Equipment Required, making this exercise suitable for everyone, whether you are newly-introduced to fitness or a seasoned fitness enthusiast.
  • Your Core will thank you! Crunches improve core stability, resulting in better posture and lowering the risk of lower back pain.
  • Crunch simplicity contributes to its effectiveness since it provides a simple but effective approach to strengthening your abdominal muscles.
  • Crunch exercises can be performed almost anywhere, making them an ideal complement to your fitness programme.
  • Although crunches primarily target the core, they also help enhance abdominal flexibility.
  • Crunches can provide a variety of benefits, making them an effective exercise for total core strength and abdominal growth.

Crunches Exercise Variations: A Step-by-Step Guide

Reverse Crunches: 

Reverse crunches are variations of the standard crunch exercise that works the lower abdominal muscles. Instead of elevating your upper body to your knees, reverse crunches entail raising your hips off the ground and towards your chest. 

  • To do reverse crunches, lie on your back with your hands at your sides or under your hips for support.
  • Lift your legs off the ground and maintain a 90-degree angle.
  • Use your lower abdominal muscles to push your hips off the ground and towards your chest.
  • Pause at the top and drop your hips without touching the ground. Repeat the required number of times. 

Bicycle Crunches: 

Bicycle crunches are a dynamic and effective abdominal workout that works many muscle groups, including the rectus abdomens and the obliques. Here's how to do bicycle crunches:

  • Lie on your back, hands behind your head, elbows pointing out.
  • In this type of crunch exercise, you need to lift your legs off the ground and bend your knees for a proper 90-degree angle.
  • Bring your right elbow and left knee together while straightening your right leg.
  • Twist your torso to move your left elbow towards your right knee while keeping your shoulders off the ground.
  • Continue pedalling, switching between sides in a controlled and rhythmic manner.
  • Make sure your lower back remains pressed on the floor during the exercise.

Bird Dog Crunches: 

Bird dog crunches are a compound exercise that works the core muscles, such as the abs, lower back, and stabilising muscles. This is how you can do Birddog crunches:

  • Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips.
  • Extend your right arm forward and your left leg backward until they are parallel to the ground, forming a straight line from fingers to toes.
  • Maintain balance and stability in this extended position by engaging your core muscles.
  • Allow your right elbow & left knee to be right below your torso.
  • Maintain control and balance as you extend your arm and leg back to their initial positions.
  • Repeat the steps on the other side

V-Up Crunches: 

V-up crunches are an intensive abdominal workout that works both the upper and lower abdominal muscles. Let’s dive into a step-by-step guide to V-up crunches:

  • Lie down on your back on a mat or a soft surface.
  • Extend your arms straight back behind your head, then stretch your legs out in front.
  • Lift your legs and upper body off the ground in a single smooth action, creating a V shape with your body.
  • Reach your hands towards your toes and try to touch them at the top of the V-up position.
  • Keep your legs straight and your core active throughout the movement.
  • Lower your legs and upper body back to the beginning posture with control.

Dead Bug Crunches:

Dead bug crunches are a great exercise for working the core muscles, especially the rectus abdominis and the muscles along the spine. 

Learn how to do these correctly:

  • Lie on your back on a mat, arms extended straight up to the ceiling.
  • For this, you need to lift your both legs off the ground and bend your knees to a 90-degree angle. You need to make sure that your shins should be parallel to the floor.
  • Simultaneously lower your right arm back towards the floor while straightening your left leg just above the ground.
  • Engage your core during the leg and arm movements to keep your lower back from lifting off the mat.
  • Move back your indulged (right) arm & left leg to the starting position.

Abs Machine Crunches:

Crunches can be performed using an abs machine, which could include a variety of training equipment developed expressly to target the abdominal muscles. While there are various types of ab machines, the primary concept is to offer resistance or support to enable crunch-like movements.

  • Set the machine for back and neck support.
  • Secure your feet or knees as instructed by your trainer.
  • Engage the core by activating your abdominal muscles.
  • Follow the machine's action, usually compressing your upper body towards your knees.
  • Avoid momentum and concentrate on controlled motions.
  • Exhale with contraction, then inhale during release.
  • Perform the appropriate amount of reps for your fitness level.

Decline Crunches: 

Decline crunches are a version of the standard crunch exercise that is performed on a decline bench. This variation focuses on the upper abdominal muscles. Here's how you can perform decline crunches:

  • Sit on a decline bench and secure your feet in the provided footholds. 
  • Ensure that the bench is at a comfortable angle.
  • Lie back on the bench, your head lower than your hips. Place your hands over your chest or lightly support your head.
  • Include your core muscles by moving your belly button towards your spine.
  • Slowly Lift your upper body towards your knees while moving your abdominal muscles. Make sure to keep your neck in a neutral position and not move it.
  • Avoid utilising momentum and instead control your movement both up and down.
  • Exhale as you crunch up, then inhale as you descend back down.

Cable Crunches:

Cable crunches are effective abdominal exercises performed with a cable machine. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do cable crunches:

  • Attach a rope or cable handle to the cable machine's high pulley.
  • Kneel in front of the machine, face it, and grasp the grips with both hands on either side of your head.
  • Contract your abdominal muscles.
  • Bend at the waist, lowering your elbows to your knees while keeping your hips motionless.
  • Squeeze your abdominal muscles at the bottom of the motion.
  • Return slowly to the beginning position while keeping the abs tight.
  • Exhale during the crunch and inhale on the return.
  • Perform the number of reps as per your fitness level.

Tuck Crunches: 

Tuck crunches are a great workout that works both the upper and lower abdominal muscles. Learn how to do tuck crunches.

  • Lie on your back on a mat, legs straight and arms stretching back overhead.
  • Brace your core muscles by slowly moving your belly button towards your spine.
  • Lift your upper body and legs simultaneously, bringing your knees up to your chest. Your body should assume a "tuck" position.
  • At the top of the movement, squeeze your abdominal muscles until your chest touches your knees.
  • Carefully lower your upper body and legs back to their starting posture.
  • Exhale as you crunch up, then inhale as you lower back down.
  • Repeat the process!

Mistakes to Avoid when Doing Crunches

Some minor or major mistakes can lead to injury and prolonged pain therefore it is advised to perform crunches with proper form. Avoid the below-mentioned mistakes for better results: 

  • Use controlled, fluid movements to avoid strain and increase efficacy.
  • Maintain a comfortable elbow position by crossing your arms on your chest rather than pulling on your head.
  • Remember to breathe rhythmically, exhaling during crunches and inhaling during releases.
  • Instead of tugging on your neck, lift using your abdominal muscles.
  • To prevent excessive arching, keep your lower back firmly against the mat.
  • Aim for a broad range of motion to ensure optimal contraction and relaxation.
  • Avoid using momentum and instead focus on core strength during repetitions.

If you have concerns with your back or neck, it is advisable to consult with your doctor or physical therapist to know if crunches are safe for you. Incorrectly performing crunches may potentially compress the spine and cause strain on the neck.

It is recommended to avoid doing crunches after the first trimester of pregnancy unless your doctor advises. If you have issues with your back, be mindful of how your lower back feels during exercise, and discontinue if you experience any strain or pain.

The appropriate number of repetitions should be based on your level of experience and overall fitness goals! So brace your core and ace today’s crunches workout!