How to Do a Perfect Crunch

Crunches are easy abdominal exercises to incorporate into your regular ab workouts routine.

And because crunches are a body-weight exercise, you don’t need any exercise equipment to perform it. 

Although crunches are extremely effective in isolating and toning the upper regions of your abs (rectus abdominis) if you’re not doing crunches with proper form, you can easily pull your neck and back muscles when coming off the floor.

So, follow this quick tips and guide on “how to do a crunch”.

How do a perfect crunch:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  2. Place your hands behind your head so your thumbs are behind your ears. Don’t lace your fingers together.
  3. Hold your elbows out to the sides but rounded slightly in. Tilt your chin slightly, leaving a few inches of space between your chin and your chest.
  4. Gently pull your abdominal inward. Curl up and forward so that your head, neck, and shoulder blades lift off the floor.
  5. Pause for a 1-2 seconds at the top of the movement and then lower slowly back down.

Tips for doing crunches properly

Keep the following tips in mind as you perform the crunch exercise:

  • Keep your abdominal engaged and pulled in so you feel more tension in your abs and use the right abdomen muscles (rectus abdominis and external obliques). Don’t over-arch your lower back.
  • Don’t pull on your neck with your hands or draw your elbows in. Keep your elbows and your neck neutral throughout the movement.
  • Do curl as well as lift. In other words, don’t yank your head, neck, and shoulder blades off the floor; you also need to curl forward, as if you’re doubling over. Think of bringing your ribs to your pelvis and exhale as you crunch up; inhale as you lower back down, keeping your belly button drawn in.
  • Don’t use momentum to crunch up, perform crunches slowly and with control. Aim for 12 to 15 reps. Anything more mind break your form.

Another big misconception I often hear about is crunches are synonymous with sit-ups. Sad to say, but it’s actually incorrect.

They are two (completely) different exercises for abs. 

Instead of lifting your entire body off the floor (in the case of sit-ups), you only lift upper back and shoulders with crunches. 

Unlike sit-ups, crunches isolate your rectus abdominis without engaging your hip flexor muscles.

And because sit-ups engages the hip flexors and lower back a lot more than crunches does, they can increase tightness in the flexors and lower lower back.

As you can see, crunches and situps are different species.

Muscles crunches work:

Abdominal anatomy muscle chart
  • Rectus abdominis
  • External obliques
  • Internal obliques
  • Transverse abdominis

Just as any other exercises, crunches also come in many different variations, and these variations include:

  • Swiss ball crunch
  • Oblique crunches
  • Side crunch

If you have a weak back, please consult with your ‘physician’ before trying this ab exercise.

‘Swiss ball crunch’ is a better alternative as the ball functions as an added support for your lower back.

Dr. Mercola Demonstrates Ab Crunch on Exercise Ball Below:

If you’re looking for core exercises to strengthening your lower back. Check out our 4 Exercises for Back Pain Relief.

Exercise Table

12-152-3EasyGym or Home

There you have it, a basic guide to crunches!

Follow the basic crunch guide above to perform it with correct form and avoid the risk of injuring yourself!

What’s you favorite way to do a crunch? Leave me a comment below to let me know. 

Misato Alexandre


After making healthy living a priority, Misato lost over 20 lbs in less than 90 days. Instead of weight loss being a dreading experience, living the lifestyle of health and fitness granted her more happiness and joy than ever before. She co-founded Fitwirr to make health and fitness simple for everyone and share her tips through writing evidence-based articles on nutrition, weight loss, and exercise.

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