Having a strong core is the base of your fitness. Not just from a gym point of view, you need to have a strong core to do your day-to-day tasks as well that require strength.
If you are looking to strengthen your gut, then you should incorporate crunch exercises into your routine. Here we have listed everything you need to know about them to gain maximum benefits.
What are crunch exercises?
Crunch exercises are classic core exercises that help you in making yourself strong and help define your abs.
However, people have this common misconception that crunches only help your stomach area. They also work your obliques, lower back, pelvis and hips. This helps with lifting weights, sports and your other gym exercises.
Crunch exercises have many variations that target different zones of your abs. Depending on your practical needs you can do the ones that will help you gain the most.
Before moving on with it, you need to know the pros and cons of crunches and what type targets what zone. This way you can develop an exercise routine that focuses on your body and its needs instead of just blindly going at it.
Types of Crunches
Four basic types of crunches focus on different zones.
- Basic Crunch Exercises
These focus on your rectus abdominis only.
- Bicycle Crunch Exercises
These are a little more intense and these focus on your rectus abdominis and oblique muscles both.
- Reverse Crunch Exercises
If you want to target more parts at once, you should go for these. These work on your rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis – the muscles that are present below your abs, and oblique muscles.
- Crossover crunch exercises
Similar to bicycle crunches, these also focus on rectus abdominis and oblique muscles both.
Benefits of Crunches
Crunches help you gain a stronger core and better posture
Crunch exercises, as mentioned above will make your core strong. Apart from that, due to continuous exercise and positioning of your body in a certain way, you will get better posture.
You don’t need any equipment
This pro makes it the kind of exercise that anyone can do from the comfort of their home. Make sure you have the right guidance and are aware of how to do it. If you are shy or don’t have a gym around or want to begin somewhere before going professional, you can do crunch exercises at home.
Lowers risk of back pain
Doing crunch exercises will lower your risk of back pain, and muscle injuries and also speeds up your recovery from previous back injuries.
With the right posture and stronger core, you will have minimal chances of hurting yourself by doing physically taxing things such as heavy lifting and carrying things around.
If you stay consistent, you will not have to worry about back pain for a long time.
Things to remember about crunches exercise
You need to remember that crunch exercises target only your core. This is why they are a limiting exercise if done standalone. You need to work out a combination of exercises that focus on different parts of your body so that you can have the overall development of your body.
A common misconception is that crunches burn calories. Calories are burnt by exercises such as cardio and other exercises that make you use your entire body.
Crunch exercises on the other hand will help give your abdomen a toned look. If paired well with a good and balanced diet, you will be able to see all the right differences.
How to do basic crunches
Basic crunches are the right place to begin. You can follow the steps given below and start your journey today.
- Lie on your back on a flat floor. Place your feet flatly and make sure they are as apart as your hips.
- Bend your knees but make sure your feet don’t touch your thighs; there should be enough distance so that you feel relaxed but also in control.
- Place fingertips behind your ears and leave your elbows wide open.
- Breathe in and brace yourself.
- Exhale slowly and squeeze your abdomen as you lift your head, neck, and shoulders towards the ceiling. You should feel the impact on your lower body and back.
- Breathe in and slowly regain your original position.
- Repeat this for five sets of 10-12 reps each.
Common mistakes while doing crunches
Understandably, you will take some time to get a hang of crunch exercises. However, you can get better at it if you make note of the following points about where people commonly make mistakes.
Pulling on your neck
Do not extend it like a bird. You need to only keep it in a rigid position. You can easily end up spraining it. Remember to focus on your abs and not your neck.
Don’t crunch too high
It is easy to get motivated and overdo the movement however you need to remember that being consistent is the key and not how high or how strongly you do the exercise.
Arching your back
This will create a concave space and add more strain to your lower spine. You will get hurt easily this way. Keep a neutral spine so that your pressure and efforts are spread evenly and don’t make one point of your body take up all the load.
Relaxing your shoulders
You don’t have to lie down like you’re going to bed. Don’t completely relax your shoulders but don’t let the tension build in them either.
A standard twenty-minute workout every day will help you with your abs development. Include crunch exercises and you will be seeing a change pretty soon.
When to not do crunches
Following are the situations when you should not be doing crunch exercises –
- If you have an old back injury, consult your doctor before taking up crunches.
- Do not do crunches once you enter your first trimester.
- If you end up hurting yourself while exercising, you should not continue despite the injury as it will only fester.
- If your lower abdomen, pelvic region or hip area feels numb.
- If you have difficulty using the washroom.