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How to Do the Crunch


Updated March 21, 2007

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How to Do the Crunch -- Body Movement
Rising for the abdominal crunch

Rising for the abdominal crunch

(c) Paul Rogers


  • Move the shoulders upward and curl slightly forward as you contract the abdominals until the shoulder blades are about two to three inches (5-7 centimetres) off the floor, or about 30 degrees; hold for about two seconds.

  • Unlike the squat and deadlift, a curl forward with the upper back and shoulders is necessary with the crunch and an arched back is contra-indicated because of biomechanical forces pulling on the spine.

  • Exhale as you come up and inhale as you return in preparation for the next repetition. Don’t hold the breath on the up movement. Contracting the abdominals does not mean holding the breath. The head should be kept straight and the chin should not drop to the chest.

  • Return to the starting position under control. Don’t flop down. Try ten repetitions for three sets starting out and increase it as you get stronger.

  • A reverse crunch has the arms by the sides and legs bent at the knees, feet off the floor with lower legs parallel to the floor. The legs are ‘reversed’ toward the chest with hips raised slightly from the floor.

  • A 'combined crunch' integrates both shoulder and leg/hip movement in one exercise. This is a very powerful advanced exercise working the rectus abdominis and the external obliques, the muscles at the sides of the abdominal area.

  • When you can do three sets of fifteen combined crunches you know your abs (and hip flexors) are in good shape.

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