Featured in: Fitness & Weight Management  |  July 13, 2020

Cutting Your Core with Crunches

By Dale Wallis

Crunches are a classic core exercise. If you’re asking yourself, “How many crunches should I do a day?” three sets of 10 to 12 reps should suffice.

However, it’s important to pair this exercise with a healthy diet to deliver results. After all, abs aren’t just made in the gym—they begin with your habits in the kitchen. Learn how working on your abdominals can get you one step closer to your six-pack dreams.

Create an Exercise Routine

While you may want to stick to crunches as your sole method of a core workout, you also need to think outside of the box and create a complete exercise routine for your whole body. This means targeting your arms, back, shoulders , legs, glutes, lower back, and hips.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? You’ll be happy to know that there are many exercises that can target multiple areas at once.

Apart from the beginner-friendly crunch, here are some exercises that target a variety of areas:

  • Pushup: This exercise targets a variety of muscles, including your core, triceps, and chest.
  • Squat: You can’t go wrong with an old-fashioned squat that works your lower body, hips, hamstrings and glutes. Up the ante and add some weights to work your upper body, too.
  • Lunge: Take the squat a step further with a lunge that targets your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings.
  • Deadlift: Want to build total-body strength? A properly executed deadlift is a great way to work your calves, quads, forearms, glutes, core and hamstrings.

Make sure the exercises you choose pump up your heart rate and get you feeling the burn. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week to maintain your current weight. Hoping to drop a few pounds? Rev up your workouts to get into a calorie deficit.

How to Do Crunches Properly

If you’re still set on including crunches as part of your workout routine, don’t forget to keep safety at the forefront. Even if you’ve been doing crunches for years, you may not have realized there’s a right and wrong way to do them. Take a look at this step-by-step guide to help you properly execute a crunch:

  1. Lie down on your back.
  2. Bend your knees so they’re facing the ceiling.
  3. Keep your feet planted on the floor, hip-width apart.
  4. Place your arms across your chest or behind your head. If you opt for the latter, make sure you’re not straining your neck.
  5. Contract your abdominal muscles and inhale.
  6. Using your core, slowly lift your body up to your knees and exhale. Make sure your head and neck are in a relaxed position and focus on your center.
  7. Inhale on your way back down and return to the starting position.

Other Ab Workouts to Try

Want to spice up the recipe for your six-pack abs? Check out these other abdominal exercises:

Planks

  1. Take the position of a pushup and place your hands under your shoulders.
  2. For added stability, squeeze your glutes and keep your toes on the floor.
  3. Focus on something on the floor and keep your head in line with your back.
  4. Hold this plank position for at least 20 seconds while maintaining your form.

Side planks

  1. Get your obliques involved by lying on your side and place one leg on top of the other.
  2. Maintain this form and lift yourself up on one hand. You can also use your elbow instead of your hand.
  3. Hold this position for as long as possible without compromising your form.

Bicycle Crunches

  1. Taking a standard crunch position, place your arms behind your head.
  2. Lift your knees to a 90-degree position and lift your upper body.
  3. With your body raised, rotate your trunk and move one of your elbows to the opposite knee.
  4. At the same time, straighten the opposite leg.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Dead Bugs

  1. Using a padded mat, lie face up with your legs and arms in the air.
  2. Bend your knees to form a 90-degree angle.
  3. Engage your core and bring your right leg and left arm down until they’re hovering above the floor.
  4. Bring them back to the starting position and repeat this exercise on the opposite side.

Mountain Climbers

  1. Get into a plank position and pull your right knee into your chest.
  2. Pull the same knee out and bring your other knee in.
  3. Keep rotating sides and focus on bringing your knees in and out as far and as fast as you can.

Maintaining your physical fitness and a nutritious diet is key to a healthy and positive lifestyle. Crunches are a great exercise to strengthen your core and the best part about them is that they can be done virtually anywhere.

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