Home Health What are Crunches? A Step-by-step Guide

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Have you ever dreamed of having a toned, sculpted abdomen that looks amazing when we go out to the beach? If so, you have certainly asked yourself what are crunches?  However, most of us don’t enjoy spending countless hours at the gym and doing complicated exercises that don’t show any results. Everyone wishes to discover a secret recipe for perfect abs, but truth is there is a simple solution, and it’s no secret at all.

Crunches are the best exercise to do if you want to develop your abdominal muscles, and get the defined look celebrities flaunt on the cover of beauty magazines. This simple series of movements doesn’t require weights or fancy gym equipment; the only necessary tool is your own body. All you need to do is learn the different variations to the classic crunches in order to work every area of your abdomen, and the results will show.

What are crunches?

Woman doing crunches at home

Crunches are one of the most common exercises recommended for working the abdominal muscles. Crunches can be done by almost everyone, and they don’t require assistance or additional equipment. If you want to tone your abs or just love a bit of the extra weight on your belly, this simple exercise is the secret for you. If you have the necessary motivation to dedicate 10-20 minutes to it daily, the results will be amazing.

Well, what are crunches? Abdominal crunches refer to the simple movement of lifting your torso off the floor toward your bended knees while supporting your neck with your hands. It’s just as simple as it sounds.

Crunches Step-by-Step

  • You start by laying on your back on the floor, facing upwards.
  • Bend your knees and rest your feet on the floor at a comfortable distance.
  • Place your interlaced fingers behind your neck or back of the head.
  • Slowly lift your torso towards your knees, while supporting your head with the hands.
  • Be careful to not lift your entire back from the floor, only lift your shoulders and upper back.
  • Do not push or tilt your head forward, keep it in a straight line.
  • Maintain your crunch and enjoy the tingling feeling in your contracted abs.
  • Slowly release your shoulders back on the floor.

You should repeat this exercise at least twice a day in series of ten. After ten crunches take a break and breath and then start again. Don’t force your body and don’t hurry through it. You are much more efficient if you do the movement slow and controlled, this way you avoid injuries or back and neck pain.

Crunches Variations for a Perfect Abdomen

Apart from the classic crunch, you might have heard of reverse crunch. Well, what are reverse crunches? As the name suggests, they are an inversion of this exercise that also works your abs, getting you closer to a toned abdomen. For reverse crunches, you have to lie on your back with your feet lifted at 90 degrees. Rest your hands either on your stomach or along your hips, whichever feels more comfortable. Then, lift your bent legs up to your head, until you’re your lower back leaves the floor. As usual, do not force your body, and do not try to lift your entire back off the floor. You will get more efficiency, only possible back injuries.

Another great exercise to try is side crunch. Created exactly for the side muscles in your abdomen, side crunches help you lose weight and tone your abs. It’s not difficult to guess what are side crunches, but you should read through this guide if you want to do them correctly and avoid injuries. For side crunches you lay on your back with your knees bent and placed on one side, one on top pf the other. Place your heads behind your neck and lift towards the ceiling. Do it for at least 10 times on each side.

How to do crunches at home?

After you’ve learned what are crunches, now is the time to learn how to them. The good news about crunches is that you can do them anywhere, even in the comfort of your own bedroom. You don’t need a lot of space or a fancy gym membership. You don’t even need to have shoes on; you can even do crunches in your pajamas. All the necessary equipment is the weight of your own body that will help your muscles develop.

If you don’t feel comfortable lying directly on the floor, use a yoga or fitness mat that will also feel better on your back. Lay down on your mat and start with the regular crunches presented above, then switch to the two variations, reverse and side crunches. Do at least 2 series of 10 repetitions for each, and you will immediately feel the contractions in your muscles.

If you manage to start and end your day with a few series of crunches, you will see the benefits in no time: stronger, more toned abdomen and visible loss of belly fat.

Crunches vs. Sit-ups

There has been an ongoing discussion in the fitness community regarding which option is the best; crunches or sit-ups. Not a lot of people know the difference between the two, and the correct way to execute them. Sit-ups are similar to crunches, as you are seated in the same position, laying on the floor with the knees bent. The difference is that for sit-ups you actually need to lift your entire back of the floor.

The problem with sit-ups is that they are not recommended for people who suffer from back pain or who have problems with their spine. The movement of lifting until your head touches your knees can be damaging to the neck and back. Knowing that sit-ups don’t engage the abs more than crunches, and they don’t provide faster results, but only increase risks, you should stick to crunches.

Fitness experts suggest doing crunches at least twice a day if you want to see results. These classic abdominal exercises are free, effective and available to everyone, regardless of their athletic abilities. Now that you know what are crunches, you should get on your mat and get started. You will certainly be impressed by your new, toned and defined abs!

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