The “Abdominal Crunch” is the most common form of exercise to train the straight abdominal muscles. As an antagonist of the back muscles, training this muscle is not only important for aesthetic reasons. The straight abdominal muscles enable the person to keep the upper body in an upright position and are used in health sports, bodybuilding, fitness sports as well as in game sports. Many sports and athletic disciplines benefit from a well-trained abdominal musculature.
The purpose of the Abdominal Crunch
The goal of the Abdominal Crunch is to strengthen and stabilize the straight abdominal muscles. While the growth of the straight abdominal muscles is aimed at many men for aesthetic reasons in order to form the so-called “six pack” or “washboard stomach“, the muscles are also of functional importance for everyone: A healthy, pronounced abdominal musculature provides an antagonistic function to the back muscles and thus enables a healthy, upright standing position as well as the lifting of heavy loads such as water boxes. The back muscles are naturally stronger and if the abdominal muscles do not counteract this, a hollow back can develop. Thus, abdominal and back muscles are involved in stabilising the healthy shape of the spine and can prevent back pain and, for years, even herniated discs.
Exercise description of the Abdominal Crunch
To perform the Abdominal Crunch correctly, the athlete positions a towel on the floor and lies down on it lengthwise, with the head in the middle, so that the towel protrudes 5-10 cm above the head. The legs are angled and the heels are on the floor with the toes pointing upwards. Now take the ends of the towel to the left and right of the head, so that the towel forms a support or a kind of “hammock” for the head.
This relieves the neck muscles and thus prevents tension in the neck area. Now the head and the upper body are detached from the floor by means of a rolling movement, as the abdominal muscles contract. A flat hand width should fit under the lumbar region, then the muscles are relaxed again and the upper body is lowered again until it is just above the floor – that means that the muscles are never completely relaxed until the end of the set.
The abdominal muscles belong to the so-called holding muscles, which means that they are designed for slow, static movements. This is exactly how the exercise should be performed – slowly and without hasty movements. Note: No equipment is required for optimal training of the abdominal muscles.
However, this only applies to abdominal training and not to other muscle groups where training without equipment can be used as a supplement. The crunches can be modified in various ways. Besides training the lower straight abdominal muscles by means of reverse crunch, the legs can be lifted off the floor in case of back pain.
Thereby the lower legs form a right angle with the thighs and the thighs with the upper body. You can feel that the lower part of the back is in firm contact with the floor. Athletes who want to increase the training stimulus can extend their arms behind their head.
In contrast, the strain can be reduced by keeping the arms stretched out next to the upper body. The hands are at the height of the thighs. In order to increase the training stimulus, the use of an expander is also recommended.
However, this is only recommended for trained athletes. The Abdominal Crunch exercise is also suitable for static training of the straight abdominal muscles, i.e. to maintain tension for a few seconds. However, this form of contraction is rather exhausting.