You might have heard that crunches are cancelled.
The classic exercise has been demonized of late. The all-out flexion of the movement can wreak havoc on your spine, and since there are other effective, safe ways to build up your core strength, the practice of ripping through crunches in the corner of the gym has lost its luster.
But people are going to keep doing crunches as long as six-pack abs are in demand, especially since trainers need to vary up their programs. “The most requested exercises I get are for the abs/core,” according to trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S.
Atkins designed this crunch circuit for her core-hungry clients, which uses multiple variations of the exercise to blast the abs. There is still value in the crunch—as long as you’re doing the movement intelligently.
“In every lying exercise, make sure the lower back is pressing into the floor, since the primary focus of all core exercises are to stabilize the spine,” Atkins says. You should also be sure to keep your head in a neutral position throughout the movements, so you don’t over-round your back, either.
To perform the crunch circuit, you’ll need some room to spread out and a yoga mat to work on.
Perform each exercise for as many reps as possible (AMRAP) in 30 seconds, then proceed to the next with little to no rest.
- Reverse Curl
- Dolphin Crunch
- Butterfly Crunch
- Toe Touch Crunch
- 1/2 Jacknife
- Alternating Knee Crunch
- Crab March
- Side Crunch
Run through every move on the circuit, then rest for 1 minute before starting again. Try 2 to 3 sets for a killer core burn—just remember to stay focused on form to protect your spine.
By Brett Williams