The Perfect Crunch
© Joan Price. May not be reprinted without permission.
Here's your basic crunch, with help from Bryant Stamford, PhD. Pay careful attention to your form and technique to get the most benefits from this abdominal workhorse.
1. Lie on your back, knees bent. Your hands can be crossed on your chest, relaxed beside your head, relaxed at your side, or crossed behind your head. Do not interlace your fingers behind your head -- this makes it too easy to pull on your head.
2. Contract your abs as you exhale. Focus on the contraction, imagining it pulling your ribcage towards your hipbone.
3. Let the contraction pull your shoulders, chest, and shoulder blades up slowly off the floor. Do not use momentum or pull on your head.
4. Pause when your upper body is about half-way to an upright position (about 6 to 12 inches off the floor) and hold the contraction for a moment.
5. Lower slowly to the floor, resisting gravity's pull, inhaling.
6. Do not relax when your head touches the floor. Tighten the contraction and begin again. Continue until fatigued.
If you can do 20 of these crunches slowly and in good form, make them harder by adding resistance. Hold a weight plate or dumbbells on your chest, or by your ears, or behind your head. The farther away the weight is from your abs, the harder the crunch. Or do your crunch on a decline slantboard or over a beach ball, so that your shoulders are lower than your hips. (Don't cheat by anchoring your feet!)