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Abdominal Crunches: Types, Benefits and Effect on Body Parts

Crunches are beyond doubt one of the finest bodyweight exercises to build a strong and ripped core. It is basically an isolation exercise targeting your abdominals and obliques in a controlled manner with moderate intensity. Let’s see some of the best types of crunches and its benefits for your fitness goals –

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Benefits of doing Crunches

Some of the key benefits of crunch exercises are mentioned below –

  • Performing crunches don’t require any of those fancy gym equipment. All you need is some space and a will to stay fit.
  • Not only doing crunches helps you in getting a toned and ripped mid-section but it also strengthens your stabilizer muscles like spinal erector muscles.
  • Moreover, crunches benefits stomach health too. It helps people suffering from regular constipation by inducing bowel spasms and triggering the bowel movement.
  • A 10 minute of moderate crunch session burns about 54 calories for a 160-pound male while increasing the intensity for a 10-minute crunch session can burn about 100 calories.
  • Some of the finest variations of crunch (mentioned below) are ball crunch, vertical leg crunch and reverse crunch with electromyogram (EMG – measurement of electrical activity generated by muscle contractions) values of 119, 129 and 240.

Fun Fact – Do you know how many crunches Manny Pacquiao does in a day? 100? 200? 500? 1,000? Nope. He does 3,000. Every single day. No wonder he’s a champ.{1}

Effects of Crunches on Body Parts

Lower Back

Even though with so many benefits, doing crunches everyday has a major disadvantage. The path movement involved in doing crunches may be a little too harsh on your lower back. Doing them often over a long period of time may cause you lower back problems.

Hips

The key to get the max out of crunches is to keep your hips on the floor throughout the motion. This is said by scientific literature to eliminate any involvement by the hip flexors, and make the crunch an effective isolation exercise for the abdominals.

Spine

A research by Dr. McGill concluded that repeated bending of the spine (especially when doing crunches) can possibly damage the spinal discs over the period time.

Types of Crunches

Regular Crunch

How to perform:

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor placed hip width apart.
  • Now place your hands behind your head such that your thumbs are under your ears.
  • Pulling your abdominals inward, curl up and forward towards your knees so that your head and shoulder are off the floor.
  • Pause for a moment at the top of the movement. Then slowly lower your back down to the floor.
  • Repeat for desired repetitions.
women-performing-crunches
Source: Livestrong.com

Ball Crunch

How to perform:

  • Get yourself a physioball (yeah that big red ball you see in the corner of the gym)
  • Sit on a physioball and roll your chest down such that your back is resting on the curve of the ball and your shoulders are above the ball.
  • Keep your knees bent and feet at shoulder width apart on the floor.
  • Perform the basic crunch as described above.
  • Don’t perform the movement too fast as you might roll off the ball by doing it.
ball-crunch
Source: Scott Herman fitness

Reverse Crunch

How to perform:

  • Lie flat on your back and your leg straight up at 90 degrees.
  • Place your hands beneath your butt or on either side of your body.
  • Now use your core muscles to pull your legs and hips up towards the ceiling while bringing your knees close to your torso.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat for desired counts.
reverse-crunch
Source: Livestrong Woman

Bicycle Crunch

How to perform:

  • Lie flat on your back with your hands behind your head.
  • Slowly lift your knees off the floor and bring them towards your torso.
  • Now first rotate your upper body towards the left and try to touch your right knee with your left elbow while extending the other leg straight out.
  • Repeat the same for the opposite side.
Bicycle crunch
Source: Tone and Tighten

Oblique Crunch

How to perform:

  • Begin with lying on your side while resting on one arm. You can keep your legs either straight or bent from the knees.
  • Place your other hand behind your head.
  • Now keeping your core tight, slowly raise your body towards the side such that your head and neck are lifted off the floor.
  • That’s rep one. Do it for desired repetitions.
oblique-crunch
Source: Scott Herman fitness

Double Crunch

How to perform:

  • Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees at a right angle.
  • Lift your hips off the floor as if you are about to perform a reverse crunch.
  • Simultaneously lift your torso off the floor as done while performing a regular crunch.
  • Squeeze your core on the top most position of the exercise and hold it for a moment.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat.
double-crunch
Source: Menshealth.com

Vertical Leg Crunch

How to perform:

  • To do vertical leg crunches, start by a regular crunch position.
  • Now lift your legs up such that your heels are towards the ceiling and right above your hips.
  • Now using your abdomen muscles raise your arms to touch your feet.
  • Hold this position for a moment and slowly lower down while keeping the legs up.
  • Repeat for desired reps.
vertical-leg-crunch
Source: Sears

Now you know all about the crunches, feel free to share your opinions and questions in the comment section below.

Tags : Ab exercise benefitsBenefits of crunchesTypes of crunches
Keyur Malani

The author Keyur Malani

Keyur Malani is a certified content writer who finds his true passion in fitness and bodybuilding. Apart from his contribution to Myfitfuel blog, he also guides people in their diet and training routines. When he's not writing articles and breaking Deadlift PRs, he's learning life lessons on brain pickings and cooking his post workout meals.
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