Stomach Exercises

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The effective abdominal crunches

Abdominal crunches are exercises designed to strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles. These are less stressful on the lower back than sit-ups but there is still caution for lower back sufferers when doing particular crunches. Ab crunches alone will not get rid of the fat around your stomach. Many have fallen into the trap of doing countless abdominal crunches in various formations but fail to lose the fat on their stomach. Why? Because unless there is a change in what you eat and you incorporate cardio or aerobic exercises you will not produce a flat stomach. If you do have a plan that consists of all three main components then crunches will be of benefit.

Abdominal crunches are used to build up or strengthen the mid section of your body. Once the layers of fat begin to shed away from your tummy you will be showing off more lean muscle. The stomach area is considered to be the core of the body. When performing ab workouts these exercises will be giving your body better foundation for a healthier lifestyle. Your back will greatly benefit from the exercises because the development of your stomach muscles help create support and allow better posture in your back.

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There are three different forms of abs crunches that you can do that will benefit your body. There is the standard crunches, the advanced crunches and the reverse crunches. These will work the mid section and your body and increase the strength of your stabilising muscles; they're just done a bit differently. The advanced are slightly more difficult than the popular regular crunches.

Regular crunches

Abs crunch startAbs crunch finish

The standard abs crunches are done by lying flat on your back on the floor. You place your arms behind your head with your fingers behind your ears and bring your knees to a bent position with your feet flat on the floor.

Lift your shoulders and head to the ceiling with your chin pointing towards the ceiling and not tucking your chin to your chest. Make sure not to pull with your hands. Hold for a second and then slowly return to the beginning position. This is a completed crunch. To make it more difficult it is recommend holding the position for two to three seconds before returning to the start position.

Advanced crunches

Advanced crunchThe advanced crunches are done by lying flat on your back and holding your legs straight up in air. Place your arms behind your head with your fingers behind your ears and lift your head towards the ceiling with your chin pointing towards the ceiling and not tucking your chin to your chest. Make sure not to pull with your hands. This exercise is not recommended for people who have severe back problems. This exercise is a little more difficult to perform. Again to increase difficulty, try holding the position for one or two seconds before returning to the beginning position.

Reverse crunches

Reverse crunch The reverse crunches are not as well known as the other two crunches. This exercise begins in the same position as the regular crunches. Place your hands flat on the floor, palms down beside you. Lift your buttocks and hips towards your chest. You will leave your head and shoulders flat on the ground. Only lift your knees, buttocks, and hips. This is not recommended if you have back problems.

Other abdominal crunches

Here are more types of crunches that will strengthen and tone your abs. By using a Swiss ball or exercise ball, you increase the intensity of your abs workout while strengthening your core stability muscles.The core stability muscles are your torso and trunk areas, front and back. Training of the muscles of the core not only help towards a flat stomach but corrects postural imbalances that can lead to injuries.

Swiss/exercise ball crunches

Swiss ball crunchDoing the same action as with a regular crunch but doing it on an exercise/swiss ball. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor. Lower your head as far as you can. Hold your hands behind your ears

Tighten your abdominal's and pull your torso to a sitting position. Pause and then slowly lower yourself. Do not tuck your chin to your chest and keep your elbows in line with your shoulders.

Exercise ball reverse crunches

Lie on your back on the ball with your knees bent and your feet are together. Have your hands reaching overhead and hold onto a bench, table, bed, chair for support. Lift your feet off the floor so that your chins are parallel to the ceiling.
Keeping your head and neck relaxed raise your hips off the ball pulling your knees to your chest. Slowly lower your hips back to the starting position.

If you want to do abdominal exercises without doing crunches then read this article on five alternative abdominal exercises to crunches or sit-ups.