Confused About Crunches


I live in Australia, weigh 53 kg (117lbs.) , height 160cm (5'3" inches).

I developed my own weights program which I do at home twice a week. I used some information from a personal trainer that published a program in one of Australia's newspapers.

I designed the program to suit my needs and capabilities. I also walk 2-3 times per week.

I would be so grateful if you could clarify 'what' and abdominal crunch is. I am very confused and want to ensure I am doing my ab exercises correctly.

Many people are telling me different things so I wanted to find the correct answer from the source.

Do I need to draw my stomach in and at the same time tense my ab muscles so they are hard, do I just draw my stomach in and not tense the muscles or do I push my stomach out and tense?

Some people have told me to pretend you are going to the toilet....

Please help.....I am so confused and want to achieve the best results by performing my ab exercises properly.

Answered By:

Mike Behnken, MS, CSCS ANswers the Fitness Question

Qualifications of Mike Behnken


An abdominal crunch is the contraction of the rectus abdominis muscle. The rectus abdominis concentrically contracts to move the spine forward moving the thorax toward the pelvis.

Basically the motion of moving your lower ribs of your rib cage towards the front part of your hip bone in accordion-like fashion.

To properly perform a crunch you need to contract your abdominals by folding your abdominal muscles (like an accordion) while you keep your stomach drawn in. Yes, your abdominal muscles will be tense when you contract them.

You are not pushing your stomach out and most definitely are not pretend you are going to the toilet.

That is called the Valsalva maneuver and it involves forcefully exhaling with a closed glottis. The only acceptable time to perform a Valsalva maneuver is when you are lifting extremely heavy weights.

Here is the Ultimate Abdominal Exercise Secret for Anyone Confused About Crunches

Just kidding about the secret thing.

A simple kinesiological tip to get the best abdominal contraction which not many people know about is to contract the glutes isometrically during all lying supine (facing up) abdominal exercises.

If you squeeze your butt, you will inhibit the hip flexors which are the muscles which raise your knee like marching as well as flex your trunk like full sit ups.

Keeping your butt squeezed will allow your abdominals to fully contract without any help from your hip flexors.

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