Whether you are looking to increase your core strength for a fitness or sports related goal, or chisel your abs for a trip to the beach, ab crunches are a great vehicle to get results. But no matter how hard you work, you will never get the results you want unless you practice the proper technique. Ab crunches are designed to target a specific muscle group, and the quickest way to achieve results is to concentrate on form.
Keep it Small
Abdominal crunches are simple to perform. Remember that a crunch is not a full sit up. It is an abbreviated motion that is designed to stimulate the rectus abdominus only. Limiting the range of motion is what makes the exercise the best way to build strength and endurance in that specific muscle group. According to Stephen Cabral, CPT/ CSCS,of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the smaller range of motion is employed so the muscles can be engaged for a larger percentage of time than they would with a conventional sit up.
Form and Technique
Begin flat on your back with your knees bent and the heels of your feet only a few inches from your buttocks. Bring your hands to your temples with palms out, and elbows out from the body at about thirty to forty-five degrees. While exhaling, bring your shoulder blades off the ground fairly quickly, until you feel an intense pressure in the rectus abdominus muscles. Hold for a one to two second count, then slowly release, beginning the next repetition when the head and shoulders are just about to touch the ground.
The Quest for Six Pack Abs
If you're goal is to sculpt yourself a set of those savage six pack abs, crunches you are the right exercise. But no matter how hard you work, the world will never bear witness to the fruits of your labor if you don't maintain a healthy diet or if you fail to keep a fitness regimen that allows you to burn calories while you are building muscle. Keeping your body fat down is the only way to get your hard-earned abs visible.
The crunch is the perfect exercise for the abdominus rectus, but there are other ways to get a good ab workout, and it's always a good idea to try new exercises to either expand the region you are engaging or to simply keep the routine from getting monotonous. Try doing crunches with a Swiss Ball. Place the ball below your lower back and keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. This method allows for a wider range of motion and also can be less stressful for the neck and back.