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Crunches: right form, benefits, and the muscles they work 

Crunches build up your core muscles (Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash)
Crunches build up your core muscles (Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash)

If you want to define your abdominal muscles, which are often called abs, then crunches are the exercise for you. These simple moves are one of the best core exercises that help enhance your core and abdominal muscles. Additionally, they also work to strengthen your other core muscles, including your pelvis, hips, lower back, and the sides of your trunk.

Let's check out the right form of crunches, the benefits this exercise provides, and what muscles they work

When performing any exercise, maintaining the right form is very important to avoid injuries and to get the best results from your session. This exercise requires straight alignment of your spine and neck, and any wrong moves from these two can lead to unbearable pain and muscle pull.

The right form

Remember these are always done on a flat floor. You may use an exercise or yoga mat for more support.

  • Lie down straight on your back.
  • Put your feet hip-width apart on the floor.
  • Your hands should be behind your ears or head with your elbows flaring out to the sides.
  • Tighten your abdomen and try to pull your belly button towards your spine as hard as you can.
  • Now lift your shoulder blades and upper body off the yoga mat. Make sure you don’t tilt your tailbone upward.
  • Slowly curl up off the yoga mat and pull your ribs towards your pelvis.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds. Inhale and exhale slowly.
  • As you inhale, lower your upper body back to the yoga mat and again take the starting position.

Check out this video for your reference.

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Once you’ve mastered the right form, you can try other variations. There are different types of crunches you can do, such as the following:

  • Basic
  • Reverse
  • Bicycle
  • Crossover
  • Oblique
  • Ball

A few safety tips

  • Make sure you use your core to raise the upper part of your body. Do not move your neck or head as this can lead to the risk of pain and injury.
  • Perform crunches with controlled and slow movements.
  • Stop doing the exercise if you feel any pain or discomfort in the lower back of your body.
Doing crunches offer numerous benefits (Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash)
Doing crunches offer numerous benefits (Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash)

Benefits

Doing crunches regularly provides numerous benefits, some of which include the below:

1.) Build stronger muscles

This is an effective strength training exercise that improves your muscle endurance and strength. This exercise targets your abdominal muscles and makes them look visually appealing. Besides this, if you want to build muscles while doing this exercise, then you may try the weighted crunches by carrying extra weight in your hands or on your chest to gain more muscle mass.

2.) No equipment or gym needed

Another very reasonable benefit is that it doesn’t require any gym equipment. You just need some space and a yoga mat to perform it. You can perform this activity almost anywhere.

3.) Boosts immune system

Physical workouts make your immune system stronger and prevent you from falling sick often.

4.) Good for your heart

The cardiovascular system includes your blood vessels and heart, which transport oxygen and other nutrients throughout your body. When you work out, your body needs to transport these nutrients, meaning you have to use your cardiovascular system. When performing strength training exercises, it increases your heart rate and helps improve your cardiovascular system.

5.) Helps reduce stomach problems

This motion is also good for your stomach health. For people suffering from constipation, doing crunches can be helpful as this exercise induces bowel spasms and triggers your bowel movement.

There are many more advantages. However, you must remember that consistency plays a big role in your fitness plan. The more consistent you are with your workouts, the easier it will become to challenge yourself with modifications.

What muscles are targeted?

Crunches work your core muscles. This includes your internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, hip flexors, and transvers abdominis. Besides these, it also works on your legs and your entire upper body part.


Summary:

Indeed, crunches may be termed as one of the most effective workouts for strengthening and toning your abdominal muscles, but this exercise is not safe for everyone. If you don’t workout regularly, haven’t exercised for several months, or have had a lower back injury in the past, then avoid this exercise and talk to your doctor.

Edited by Jodi Whisenhunt
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