The crunch is one of the most popular abdominal exercises. It involves the entire abs, but primarily it works the rectus abdominismuscle and also works the obliques. It allows both building six-pack abs and tightening the belly. Crunches use the exerciser’s body weight to tone muscle and are recommended as a low-cost exercise that can be performed at home.
How to do?
- Lie on your back on an exercise mat: Using a mat, thick towel, or carpeted surface is more comfortable than lying on a hard, bare floor.
- Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor: Your knees and feet should be about hip-width apart. Position your feet so your heels are about 30 to 46 cm from your tailbone
- Cross your arms in front of your chest: You could also place your fingertips behind your neck or head if it feels more comfortable. Just be sure not to tug your head or neck up as you perform a crunch.
- Lift your shoulder blades off of the mat with a smooth, controlled motion: Inhale, then exhale as you engage your ab muscles and raise your torso. Lift yourself just enough to raise your shoulder blades off of the floor. Once your shoulders are raised, pause and hold that position for 1 to 2 seconds
- You can also do these with your hand crossed over your chest.
- Exhale as you curl forward and inhale as you lower your torso back down.
When regular crunches are modified, all of which help in specifically designed to reduce belly fat. You need to take a couple of weeks to get familiar with the basic crunches and then move on to other variations that are more effective and result-oriented. The first one among these is the twist crunch.
How to do?
- Lay flat on the floor with your feet flat on the ground and knees at a 90-degree angle.
- Place your hands behind your head or across your chest. Beginners should place them across the chest.
- Curl your torso towards your knees, lifting the shoulder blades off the ground. When curling up, twist so that one elbow is pointing at your knees.
- Hold the curled position and contract the abdominal muscles for 2 seconds.
- Repeat to the other side.
- If your hands are behind the head, they are only there to make the exercise harder, and not to help you pull your head up. Using force to help lift your head may cause injuries.
- Don’t hold your breath. If you exhale on your way up, you will automatically inhale on your way down. You have to ensure that you don’t deprive your body of oxygen and you pace your breath.
One of the other variations of the crunch that helps lose the flab around the belly, the side crunch focuses more on the side muscles.
How to do?
- Lie on your back with your hands supporting your head, bend the knees, and rotate your hips to the left.
- Lift your shoulders off the floor, squeeze the obliques and hold for 1 to 2 seconds.
- Slowly return to the starting position, repeat, and switch sides.
- Have a focal point to look at when doing the crunches so you maintain the distance between your chin and chest
- Don’t be in a hurry, and ensure your movements are slow and steady. The midsection will hurt if you perform the crunches in haste.
When it comes to the crunch, though, you can skip right ahead to the reverse form of the move. The reverse crunch is used on the transverse abdominals, which is the deepest muscle in the stomach. It is one of the most effective moves to lose lower belly fat, especially for women. You can progress to reverse crunches after a few weeks of getting comfortable with the other variation
How to do?
Start lying down with your arms by your sides. Raise your legs so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your knees are bent at a 90° angle. Breathe out and contract your abs to bring your knees up towards your chest and raise your hips off the floor. Hold for a beat in this position, then slowly lower your legs back to the starting position.
Moving slowly with complete control is key to the reverse crunch. This keeps the abs under tension for a longer period and prevents you from putting a strain on your lower back, which can happen if you rush the reps. If you’re arching your lower back when lowering your legs, that’s a sign you’re not moving in a controlled fashion.
- You can cross your ankles if you want when lifting your legs.
- Don’t bring your elbows to your knee caps. Try and avoid pulling your bottom up off the floor when doing the crunch
Vertical leg crunches
The vertical leg crunch is a great core exercise. It is similar to the basic crunch, except that the legs are perpendicular to the floor. It can help you reach your goal of flatter and more attractive abs and a strong core. You can use this exercise as part of a core workout or a total body workout. It is effective for the lower back muscles as well. The position of this crunch improves the intensity of the exercise, so it is a good one to progress to after you are comfortable with the basic crunch.
How to do?
- Lie flat on your back on the ground. Start the exercise by lying down, extending your legs, and pointing your toes upward to form a straight line with your body. Relax your shoulders and neck and find a comfortable position.
- Fold your hands and place them behind your neck. Interlace or stack your fingers and place them behind your neck to help support your head during the exercise. Your hands should rest comfortably behind your neck and shouldn’t pull on your head.
- Raise both of your legs so they’re perpendicular to the ground. Keep your legs together and extend them so they’re straight. You can bend your knees slightly if your flexibility doesn’t allow you to keep them straight, but work to straighten your legs out over time.
- Contract your core to prepare for the movement. Once you’re in a good position with your legs elevated, take a breath and brace your core for the movement by contracting and keeping it tight. Keep your back fully connected to the ground.
- Keep your neck level with your torso and your lower back pressed against the floor.
- You can bend your knees a little and/or cross your legs if it makes the exercise easier.
- Instead of reaching up to touch your toes, you can place your hands behind your head.
- To make the vertical leg crunch more difficult, hold a weight plate in your extended hands or behind your head.
The bicycle crunch is the best ab exercise you can do, reaching not only the usual abs but also the deep abs and the obliques. If you want to work your core, this air bicycle maneuver is a great choice. It’s a no-equipment, beginner’s level exercise you can do anywhere. Use it as part of your core strengthening workout or add it to a full-body workout.
How to do?
- Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground and knees bent. Your feet should be on the floor and your hands are behind your head.
- Contract your core muscles, drawing in your abdomen to stabilize your spine.
- With your hands gently holding your head, pull your shoulder blades back and slowly raise your knees to about a 90-degree angle, lifting your feet from the floor.
- Exhale and slowly, at first, go through a bicycle pedal motion, bringing one knee up towards your armpit while straightening the other leg, keeping both elevated higher than your hips.
- Rotate your torso so you can touch your elbow to the opposite knee as it comes up.
- Alternate to twist to the other side while drawing that knee towards your armpit and the other leg extended until your elbow touches the alternate knee.
- Aim for 12 to 20 repetitions and three sets.
Instead of counting crunches, you could also time yourself for sets. For example, 1 set might last between 20 and 60 seconds.
The lunge with a twist exercise is a great core exercise that builds lower body strength. Performing the lunge while holding and rotating a medicine ball from right to left engages the quads, glutes, and core while improving balance and proprioception, though using this equipment is not required.
The lunge with a twist is also often incorporated into prep time for certain physical activities.
How to do?
- Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart and your arms lifted at the front.
- Take a step forward with your right leg, bend both knees, and rotate your torso to the right.
- Return to the starting position and repeat the movement on the left side.
- Alternate sides until the set are complete.
- Don’t twist your knee or bend your spine forward. The spine should be kept straight.
- Once you build tolerance with this exercise, you can perform it with holding a weight (like a medicine ball) in your hands.