Crunch City

Why So Many Crunches?

I do a lot of crunches, crunch variations and leg lifts. Crunches work the core, and without a strong core all the work you might do upstairs with strong arms, shoulders, chest and back doesn’t connect with the gains you make downstairs with strong thighs, legs and ankles. If you can’t drive your power strongly through the core, it’s mostly wasted.


On occasion I fall into the habit of doing the same set of exercises, When you find yourself do a lot of repetitions and not really being tired, you know your body has gotten efficient at a specifc set of movements, and you’re not really doing much work. So yes, we’re going to do a lot of crunches, but we’ll do many variations because we don’t want to get efficient at any of them. We need to keep those core muscles guessing.

Unfortunately crunches can be done with what looks like correct form without doing meaningful work. Here’s the right way to do them:

  • Squeeze the abs very hard at the top of each crunch. If you can talk to somebody while doing crunches, you are probably not squeezing hard enough.
  • Hesitate at the top and bottom to eliminate momentum.
  • Do not Yank on the back of the head. Besides compromising the crunch this bends your neck excessively and can lead to neck or upper back pain. Keep your hands off to the sides of your head without letting them touch your head. If you find you can’t keep your back engaged as you roll back from the crunch, try moving your hands further forward. Having your hands behind your head ties your shoulders to your abs and can limit flexibility.
  • Do not use momentum. Each rep should be performed slowly and under control.
  • Don’t hold your breath. Focus on pressing your abdominal muscles outward during your inhale. If you limit breathing, you will be limiting the work on your abs.

Straight Crunch

To increase the effectiveness of the crunch movement, push your chest and head up towards the sky while keeping your lower back flat. You will automatically do a crunching motion. Trying to crunch up towards the sky increases tension on the abs. Hold at the top of the movement for a second and squeeze hard. Do not lift up into a sit-up as this works the hip flexors and can strain your back.

Low Bicycle

Crunch with your feet up in the air and one knees bent. Crunch and rotate at the same time, relax back but don’t touch the ground with either foot. Don’t let momentum help you, keep the movements smooth and steady. Crunch upward before turning towards your knees for a different way of hitting the muscle. Do ten on a side and then switch. As a variation you can switch on each crunch

Grass Stains

Tuck your legs up until they reach your butt. Raise your head and shoulders and touch alternate ankles with a twisting motion

Cherry pickers

Rotate to touch toes Imagine you are trying to press your face onto the ceiling. As a variation, reach up with your hands flat as though making palm prints on the ceiling. For another variation, focus on leading with your shoulders. This has a different feel than the typical crunch which focuses on simply bring the ribcage to the pelvis

4 crunch

Cross your left leg over your knee so your legs look like the figure 4. Rest your arms by your sides and lift your leg while pressing your shoulders against the ground. Make the lifting movement come from your abs by not letting your arms help. If you keep them relaxed at your sides your arms and shoulders can’t get into the act.

Cross R/L

With both legs rolled up in a sitting position, crunch up and touch your right elbow to left knee, roll back, crunch and touch the left elbow to right knee

Pelvic Lift

Raise your legs straight up, curl up slightly with your torso, then lift your pelvis and lower back up using your abdominals. this is essentially a reverse crunch movement and it’s a great core strengthener

Triple Leg lift

Bring on the pain. To do this right you DO NOT lower your legs to the ground. Keep the legs lifting throughout the exercise. Start with your legs straight up with your arms behind your head and your upper body rolled slightly forward. Lower to 3/4 high. Stop and hold, lower to half. Stop and hold, lower to 1/4. Stop and hold, raise back to the top and start again. As a variation you can reverse the direction so it is a lift to 1/4, 1/2. 3/4 full or you can do the exercise in both directions

Balance tens

These were once called balance 24’s, but I decided ten seconds was enough for each pose. Cross your arms on your chest, raise your legs and balance on your butt. Rotate to your left side, back to center, rotate right, back to center.

Saddle Crunch

Raise your legs and spread them. Clasp your hands in front of you, crunch up through your legs

Oblique Crunch

Lift your knees to a sitting position, rotate to your left side and crunch up. Finish on that side and switch.

Side Raise

Couples a leg raise to a body raise. Lay on your side, place your forearm of the ground-side in front of you. Lift your leg and raise your torso while you reach to touch your ankle. Complete a set and switch sides.

Run to Next Station
We’re still not running hard, just an easy jog, nothing fancy, still warming up
This should be about five minutes of jogging.