Ways & How

how to do crunches

how to do crunches

Crunches still remain the go-to abdominal exercise for strength training because it is the simplest move with the most consistent results. However, you are not going to accomplish much with crunches, no matter how many you do or how hard you work without the proper form. At best, you will have done all that work for nothing; at worse, you may even run the risk of worsening an existing lower back or neck problem. On the other hand, knowing how to do crunches properly will get you results faster. Crunches differ from sit-ups in that you only lift your upper back, instead of your entire back, off the floor. Doing this will sort of “crunch” your ab muscles together, hence the name. It is safer because it doesn’t compress the spine as much as a sit-up does, and it is also easier to perform. So how do you do a crunch properly?

  1. Find a place with solid support but with a bit of cushion for your back. Grassy ground works well. If you have to lie on concrete or tiled floor, at least use an exercise mat to avoid straining your back. Note: women have more curvature in the lower back than men do, so they need extra back support when doing crunches.

    rolled towel placed under the highest arch of the spine will work; find the best thickness that’s comfortable.

  2. Your knees should be bent, your feet positioned as wide as your hips, and both should be flat on the floor.

  3. Your hands should be behind your head. Do not lace your fingers together; instead, your thumb should be positioned behind your ears and your other fingers should just be touching somewhere behind the middle of your head. Your elbows should be to the sides but not stiffly sticking straight out, just slightly rounded in, and level with your ears. Do not let them get close together.

  4. Do not tuck your chin into your chest. You may feel that you achieve more by moving your chin close to your chest, but you actually are not; it doesn’t improve your workout and only increases the risk of an injury. So try to look at the ceiling while doing crunches to ensure that your chin is in the right, safe position.

  5. Exhale, contract your abs, then curl up and forward. Don’t yank yourself up, but use your abs to lift your head, neck, and shoulder blades off the floor. Do not pull your head up with your hands. You’ll know if you’re doing this because you will feel the pressure on your head. This means you are not using your abs and wasting your efforts.

  6. Pause for a moment, squeezing your abdominals as you do so. Then inhale slowly and ease your back down to the starting position. Do not release rapidly or plop your back down. Controlling the movement while lifting your back up and going back down works your abs both ways.

  7. After finishing a crunch, relax your muscles for a moment, exhale and repeat. Throughout the exercise, be mindful to keep your knees bent and your feet in the same position. Never lift your lower back off the floor. Crunches are best done very slowly and always with control.

When starting, you can do 12 reps at first until you can complete three sets at a time, then shoot for 20 reps per set. As you improve, increase the number of reps per set. If you do this faithfully four times a week, you will start to see results in as little as 2 months. Dramatic results will of course be determined by the other lifestyle habits you incorporate in your regimen, including diet, but any exercise is better than none. When combined with a comprehensive weight loss and strength training program, following these steps ensures you know how to do crunches.


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