The abdominal crunch is just about the most basic stomach exercise you can do. Here is a basic ab crunch modified for the beginner level. I've also modified it so that you can access your core abdominal muscles. Core abdominals support body posture and help prevent back injury. So Pilates fans, think of this as one version of an ab curl!
Whether you call it an ab curl or an ab crunch, this stomach exercise is one you can do at home.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Try to put each heel in a straight line with its respective sitting bone. This will help you keep your legs in alignment and the stress off your knee, hip and ankle joints. Check your posture to be sure that your trunk makes a straight line and is not torqued or tilted.
Your arms should be straight down by your side. They'll stay that way throughout the exercise. Arms by your sides is one thing that makes this ab crunch a beginner's version.
Gently press your coccyx (tailbone), which is a small bone located at the very bottom of your spine, into the floor. This will automatically increase your low back curve just a little. Slide your hand into the space between your low back and the floor. Now you're set up to involve your deep abdominal muscles in the work. Tighten your stomach muscles by pulling them in toward your back and toward the center line of your body (ie, your belly button).
Inhale, then exhale, and tighten your stomach, and tuck your chin in toward your neck a little. Slowly lift your head and shoulders up off the floor. Keep your shoulders wide. Ideally, you'll get high enough so that only the tips of your shoulder blades in back are touching the floor. As you raise yourself, keep checking your posture to be sure your tailbone is pressing into the floor, and your low back curve is maintained. This is to keep the deep abs challenged. Remember, the deep abs are important muscles for core postural support. Bring your ribs down both toward your feet and toward the floor.
Hold the position - but not your breath - for a slow count of 5.
Inhale, and slowly reverse what you just did. Keep the tailbone pressing into the floor as you bring your upper back, shoulders and head down to the floor. Pressing your tailbone down gently will help maintain the contraction in your deep abs without much effort on your part. On the way back down, move sequentially. First, gently bring your upper back down, next your shoulders and finally your head.
Keep your stomach pulled in as you lower.
Repeat at least 5 times, or until your technique becomes "sloppy." See the Tips section below for more information on sloppy technique.
- Keeping your alignment as you do the work will involve your core posture muscles faster and better than just going through the motions.
- It's better to come up just a little with good technique than to get all the way up with sloppy technique. Examples of sloppy technique include pressing your hands against the floor to help yourself up, tilting your pelvis and flattening your low back to help yourself get up. If you can't get up without doing either or both of these things, then decrease how far you go. As your abs get stronger you'll be able to come up further with good technique.
Moffat, Marilyn, P.T. Ph.D. and Vickery, Steve. The American Physical Therapy Association Book of Body Maintenance and Repair. Owl Books. Henry Holt and Company, LLC. New York, New York, 1999.
What You Need
- Uninterrupted time
- A piece of floor or other hard surface to lie on