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Abdominal Exercises - Ab Crunches

Exercise Name:
Ab Crunches

Purpose: To develop the abdominal muscles.

Target Muscle Group(s): The primary muscle group being worked are the abdominal muscles, specifically the rectus abdominis and external obliques.

Secondary muscle groups being worked are the quadriceps (rectus femoris) and the tensor fascia lata (part of your hip flexor that is located slightly to right of the upper quadriceps).

ab muscles

Instructions: Proper Ab Crunch Technique

1. Lie flat on your back with your pelvis slightly raised off the floor (1 inch at the most) to keep your back flat. Lie on either an exercise mat or soft surface (e.g., carpet).
2. Place your feet flat on the floor shoulder width apart.
3. Place your fingers lightly on your temples.
4. Curl up and forward using your stomach muscles so that head, neck and shoulder blades lift off the floor.
5. Lower your head, neck and shoulders back to the starting position.

Additional Comments And Tips: 

1. Breathe out while performing the crunch, and breathe in on the way down, or at the end of the movement.
2. If you have trouble doing the crunch while keeping your feet flat on the floor get a spotter to hold your feet down or place your feet under a heavy object.
3. To make this exercise easier, place your arms out in front of you (your arms should be parallel to the floor).

Also Known As: Sit Up, Abdominal Crunch
Exercise Type: Strength Training, Weight Loss, Toning, Sports Training
Force: Pull
Exercise Level: Beginner
Mechanics Type: Isolation Exercise

Ab Crunch Variations:

1. Get partner to anchor your feet - this will keep your feet from lifting off the ground (especially useful for women because women tend to be lighter).
2. Place arms straight by your sides or in front of you - this makes the exercise easier.
3. Fold your arms across your chest - this increases the resistance and therefore the intensity.
4. Keep your thighs vertical with the knees bent - this targets the upper abs more.

Safety Precautions:

1. Lift your head up enough so that your middle and lower back are flat against the floor.
2. Don't place your hands directly behind your head, this will encourage you to crunch with your hands instead of your ab muscles. This could lead to neck and/or spinal cord injuries and it doesn't work your abdominals properly.

Alternatives/Substitutions: List of Abdominal Exercises
  • Ab Roller Sit-ups
  • Broomstick Twists
  • Cable Crunches
  • Captain's Chair Leg Raises
  • Dumbbell Side Bends
  • Exercise Ball Crunch
  • Hanging Leg Raise
  • Incline Bench Sit-ups
  • Incline Leg Raises
  • Machine Crunches
  • Machine Trunk Rotations
  • Plank
  • Reverse Sit-ups
  • Roman Chair Crunches
  • Roman Chair Side Bends
  • Seated Leg Tucks
  • Sit-ups with calves laying on a bench
  • Suspended Bench Sit-ups
  • Twisting Hanging Leg Raises

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