Abdominal crunches are one of the most common ab exercises. They may be more simple than other stomach workouts but can be very effective if done correctly.
If you are looking to flatten your stomach then check out how to do these workouts. These are more common and are fit for all fitness levels.
These will work both the upper and lower abdominal muscles, or your rectus abdominis muscle. The rectus abdominis is often referred to as your six pack abs.
Most people think of this as separate muscles with upper abs and lower ab muscles. This is actually one long muscle. So when performing crunches, you will be working the entire muscle but with a focus on the upper or lower area of this muscle.
To see the instructions for these abdominal crunches, you can either scroll through the page or use the links below to jump to the workout you want to try.
Some of the advantages to doing crunches is it requires no special abdominal exercise equipment. All you need is a spot on the floor and an exercise mat.
Another great advantage to abdominal exercise crunches is there is less stress on the lower back than some more advanced or challenging abdominal exercises.
Some of the disadvantages of doing stomach crunches is the limited range of motion. The crunch requires very little movement of the spine and stomach, which limits the area of muscle worked.
Yet another disadvantage to crunches is that it requires no additional resistance in the form of weight or an exercise ball. Therefore you can outgrow or plateau your strength training on these abdominal muscles. If this happens, try using an exercise ball or add some weights to your crunches.
Read about these top abdominal crunches and how they rate in this study.
The traditional crunch is one of the most common abdominal exercises and is believed by many to be one of the most effective. It is a great exercise for the stomach if you are just starting out. This abdominal crunch will help strengthen your core muscles as well as your back.
More advanced crunches can be painful to your back if it is not used to these types of movements. So if you are just starting out, this is a great move to start with.
The reverse crunch really works your lower abs. It gets deep into the core muscles and really strengthens the stomach. This one can be hard on your back,
so alter this move if needed by placing your hands beneath your hips to give your back some support.
There are many different variations of the reverse abdominal crunch. If you have been doing this move different than mentioned below, that's fine. Just make sure you really feel it in the lower abdominals and are not putting too much strain on the back.
A vertical leg crunch takes the traditional crunch to the next level. By extending the legs vertically towards the ceiling, you are adding more resistance.
This gives you a more advanced level for really working the rectus abdominus muscle. This move will really focus on both the lower and upper abdominals.
When doing this abdominal crunches exercise, make sure you let the stomach muscles do the movements and don't push up with your hands.
You can alter this move to make it a full vertical leg crunch. To do this, place your hands loosely by head. When lifting your upper body, also reach your legs to the ceiling, creating a curve or u-shape with your torso.
The long arm crunch is yet another variation to the basic abdominal crunches. With this stomach exercise, you are keeping your lower body stationary and lifting the upper body. This will contract the rectus abdominus muscles and helps tone your belly.
This abdominal crunches move can be done with straight legs on the floor. However, to better support your lower back, it's best if you bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
If you feel pressure or pain in your neck, just take one hand and place it behind your head for additional support, keeping one arm straight.
These abdominal crunches will require some equipment...an exercise ball. By using the stability ball you are engaging your abdominal muscles more than on an exercise mat. In fact, this stomach workout came in third on it's effectiveness for the rectus abdominus in one study. If you want to learn more about why this was rated in the top 3, read this article on the Best and the Worst Ab Exercises.
You want to use a large exercise ball which can be purchased for about $20 to $50 dollars. The investment is well worth it as it is good for many different workouts for all parts of the body.
Alter these abdominal crunches by brining your feet closer together. This will work more of the oblique muscles.
These abdominal crunches not only works the rectus abdominus, but it will work your obliques as well. If you only have time for one abdominal move, then make it this one.
This move will really focus on both the lower and upper abdominals and your obliques, which are the muscles on the sides of your abs. While doing this move, if you feel your lower back start to hurt, stop and stretch with both your arms and legs straight out. Then do another set if you are up to it.
Remember to breathe evenly throughout the abdominal crunches. If you find that your back is arching or lifting away from the floor, adjust your angle to something more comfortable for you. You do not want to put undue pressure on your lower back.
Check out the fitness video series for working on your obliques. These are the side muscles of your abdominal and help us twist and turn our bodies.
This is yet another series of videos to strengthen and tone your stomach muscles. The transverse abdominal is one of the most under worked muscles in our bodies.
Lose Belly Fat
When you are done giving your stomach a complete workout, check out this article. To really lose belly fat you will need to put away the exercise mat and grab your running shoes.