Crunches, they are a favourite among newbies and professionals alike, but crunches are often performed incorrectly. Here are the Classic Mistakes that I see people make when trying to execute this abdominal exercise.
How to perform a Crunch:
Now, to perform this exercise, you should bring your knees up, and lay flat on your back. From this starting position place your hands on your lap. Now roll your upper body forward, to bring your shoulders off of the floor. Meanwhile slide your hands up your thighs to touch your knees. This version of a crunch makes it very easy to get right, and allows beginners to focus on the tension of the Rectus Abdominis without using momentum.
How not to:
Speaking of momentum, when people get tired, or to try and help themselves get up in the first place, they tend to swing their arms forward. This launches their body upward, and does not allow the abs to work effectively at all. Instead, the crunch becomes more of an arm or lat exercise. Again, this is why I prefer the knee touching method of the crunch. This technique helps to remove the temptation, as you have to keep your hands on your lap.
Another way that people try to “cheat” their way through a crunch, is by having their hands behind their head. It is ok, so long as your elbows are as far back as possible, but the temptation is there to then pull. Similar to the last point, as people tire, they will begin to pull on their necks to assist the movement. This places strain on the spine as you are forcing it into Hyper Flexion, especially if it is a repetitive mistake.
There may be only a couple of mistakes that people make with this exercise, but they are very large ones that are either costing you progression and/or your spinal health.
Should this exercise become too easy, you can add a weight by holding it above you. Make sure you are not swinging it though, as this will make it even easier. I try to pick a spot on the ceiling and keep it underneath it. That way the movement is upward, rather than moving forwards with me, allowing the weight to be placed on my abs rather than my shoulders as I crunch up.
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