The second exercise in The 100 Workout is the abdominal crunch. Crunches are an essential workout for developing a strong core and upper abdominal muscles – if you don’t have crunches as part of your workout program, you are missing out on an effective exercise for developing those “six pack abs”. The crunch differs from traditional sit-ups in that you keep your lower back on the floor throughout the entire motion. By doing so, you eliminate the additional help provided by your hip flexors and iliopsoas muscles and focus entirely on your abdominal musculature. Yes, crunches are tough and they… can cause a pretty significant burn, but consider it a fair trade for a killer core and strong abs.
During The 100 Workout Program, the crunch comes twice: at exercise two, you perform 90 crunches; at exercise six, you perform 50 crunches.
Performing the Crunch
Proper crunch technique takes a bit of work and a bit of adjusting to, but once you have it mastered you’ll find that this exercise really helps to tone those abs. Start by lying flat on your back, on a mat or towel for comfort. Place your feet flat on the floor at about the same width as your hips, and bend your knees at a comfortable angle to make a nice triangle between your legs and the floor. Then, tuck your hands behind your head with your thumbs right around the base of your ears:
When you come up, it’s very important that you keep your head facing upwards, and don’t pull down on your head with your hands for leverage. Try to imagine that you have a large apple between your jaw and your chest so that your head can’t be pulled downwards. Then, lift your body by flexing your abdominal muscles until your upper back and shoulder blades are off of the floor; during this entire motion, your lower back and legs should remain in their positions:
Finally, pause at the top for a second or two while squeezing your abdominal muscles, and lower yourself back to the floor.
Here’s a video that shows the correct technique for abdominal crunches. Note that during the video, the instructor does not touch her chin to her chest, and her lower back stays on the floor for every repetition:
Abdominal Crunch Variations
Those who are looking for intermediate or advanced versions of the abdominal crunch can try doing their crunches on top of a swiss ball. For even more of a challenge, grab a 10 pound weight plate and hold it against your chest for the duration of the exercise.
The crunch can be modified to work the oblique – or “side” – abdominal muscles by twisting your upper body on the way up. The oblique crunch can be performed just like the regular crunch: with both feet on the floor, while holding both legs bent at 90 degrees parallel to the floor (below left) or while crossing the opposite leg over the other knee (below right):
Tips for Mastering the Crunch
The sheer volume of crunches in The 100 Workout is one of the main reasons that it’s so challenging. Performing 90 crunches back-to-back can be excruciating for first-timers (not to mention the other 50 you still have remaining!), so here are a few tips to help you master the crunch on your path to becoming a 100 Workout champion:
- Start out with a small goal – if your abdominals are not used to being trained, just work on a small goal of 10 or 20 crunches to begin with. This will help you get used to the motion and ensure you are performing the exercise correctly.
- Try to do crunches throughout the day – it will look a little goofy doing crunches in the office, but if you have spare time during the day crunches are an easy exercise that doesn’t break a sweat and can be performed virtually anywhere. If you want to keep your workouts private, tackle crunches before you leave in the morning, again when you get home, and an hour before bed.
- Don’t get discouraged! – the abdominal crunch is not an easy exercise to master, but if you work at them, you are guaranteed to improve over time and to develop a stronger core. If you can do all of the crunches in The 100 Workout, you are well on your way to that set of “six pack” abs!
Share your Crunching Tips!
Are you able to do all of the 140 crunches that come up during The 100 Workout? Do you have variations or modifications that you find more challenging or better than doing the straight abdominal crunch? Share your thoughts in the comments below!