In most abdominal workouts, crunches are included. They can be a great way to shape up your midsection, and have proven to be a timeless exercise. The question is, are you performing this useful exercise correctly, thus gaining its maximum benefits? Or, are you shorting yourself the advantages that crunches have to offer? If you are a bit cloudy on just exactly how to do a perfect crunch, read on! These tips will give you the best crunches in the gym!
To start, we’ll review a few Do’s and Don’ts for crunches you’ll want to remember the next time you’re in the gym.
- Lay on the floor with you’re back pressed down flat.
- Bend your knees.
- Squeeze your stomach muscles as you lift.
- Keep your hands behind your head
- Keep your arms crossed over your chest.
- Keep your elbows out, away from your face or ears.
- Keep your neck straight.
- Keep a smooth, steady tempo.
- Use only your abdominal muscles to help you lift.
- Arch your back.
- Use your arms to help you lift.
- Use your neck to help you lift.
- Close your elbows on your face or ears.
- Strain your neck as you lift.
- Jerk up and down rapidly
With these pointers in mind, here is an easy to remember, step by step guide on how you can perform the perfect crunch!
Lie down on the floor. Bend your knees up until your entire back is resting comfortably on the floor. Be sure your back is not arched, but rather completely flat. Place your hands behind your head or cross your arms over your chest.
If you choose to put your hands behind your head, do not squeeze your elbows close to your face. Your elbows should be kept out, away from your face. This reduces strain on your neck.
Squeezing your abdominal muscles, lift your head, neck and shoulders off the floor. There should be a straight line from your shoulders to the top of your head as you lift. To keep this straight line, imagine an iron rod that starts in your upper back and goes up the back of your neck and head.
If you can keep this line straight, not only will you keep your neck free from injury, but you will also be getting the greatest benefit from each crunch. Your stomach muscles will be doing the work, instead of your neck, back and arms! Keeping your eyes focused on the ceiling will also help with this.
Continue lifting your shoulders, neck and head until your shoulders are about three inches off the ground. Since you can’t see when your shoulders are three inches off the ground, I suggest lifting until you feel your abs squeezing the tightest. At the peak of your crunch, try to hold it for a second or two. If your muscles are slightly trembling, you’re doing it right!
As you begin to release the crunch and go back down, you may allow a slight curve in your neck and shoulders. This should only be allowed on the way down, however, and not on the way up. Slowly let yourself down until your back, shoulders, neck and head are flat on the ground. Now you’re all set to go again!
Remember to keep a steady tempo; not too fast, not too slow. Many people also forget to breathe when they do crunches, so remember to breathe in as you lift, and breathe out on the way back down. Calm, steady breathing can also help to maintain a steady rhythm.
Now you’re well on your way to a bright abdominal future! For a toned tummy, keep these tips in mind, and keep those elbows away from your face!