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Abdominal Crunches

Kalpana Kumari

Crunches are the most commonly practiced of all abdominal exercises. It is primarily a core strengthening workout, which mainly targets the rectus abdominis muscle.
Abdominal crunches are designed to target the abdominal muscles. They are quite easy to perform and can be done at home. They benefit regular practitioners with strengthened and toned muscles. For these reasons, many fitness-conscious people like to include them in their exercise regimen.

How to do Crunches

  • Lie on the floor with both legs kept straight and arms at the sides.
  • Bend your legs such that a 45 degree angle is made at the knees, and place your feet flat on the floor.
  • The entire positioning of your body should be comfortable.
  • Pull your belly button in, i.e. towards your back. Flatten the lower portion of the back against the floor.
  • Place both hands at the back of your head. This will provide support during the action. However, do not use your hands for moving your body upward. You should use them only to support your head and neck when you complete the crunch.
  • Slowly contract the abdominal muscles. Keep them as tight and firm as you can. This will deliver maximum strengthening.
  • Lift your shoulder blades above the floor. A height of 1 or 2 inches is recommended. However, make sure that your neck is not being pulled.
  • Bring your knees towards your chest. Straighten your right leg outwards and simultaneously turn the upper part of the body to the left. Bring your right elbow towards the left knee.
  • Exhale while coming up. Always keep your neck straight and chin up.
  • Stay at the top of the movement for a couple of seconds. Keep breathing continuously.
  • Come back to the starting position but do not relax completely. Continue the above given steps in a pedaling motion by switching over the legs. Repeat them 15 to 20 times.
  • You may add variations like bringing your knees in when you push your upper body above the floor. This step is known as a full body crunch.
  • As you get more comfortable and confident, you can make the process a bit challenging. One option is to balance on an exercise ball.
This workout is not difficult to perform. However, if you do find some difficulty, you may try out a few tips. In order to keep your neck in proper alignment, keep your fist under your chin. This will prevent your head from moving. Secondly, maintain your back position flat on the floor throughout all the movements. 
Thirdly, if you find that your back arches during the movements, place your feet on a step, platform, or any similarly firm object. This will ease your movements and help you keep your back straight at all times. Finally, always warm up your body to make the crunches work effectively.
By performing this workout on a regular basis, you will eventually develop a strong core which will promote good posture, and reduce the risk of injury. This is one of the best workouts to flatten the abs. Therefore, to get a strong and toned abdomen, practice crunches as directed and recommended.