Have I mentioned how much I hate exercising? I found something out recently though: doing certain exercises correctly actually makes them easier (and more rewarding) than flopping my way through them hoping to get in shape. By magic.
To do a crunch properly:
- Lay on your back on the floor. You can’t really do a proper crunch on the bed or sofa; you need a flat, solid surface beneath you for support.
- Draw your knees up close to your chest, so that your lower back/upper butt are pressed flat into the floor. Then, lower your feet so that they’re on the floor, with your knees bent. This should feel comfortable. Your back should be perfectly flat on the floor, your feet flat on the floor too, your legs bent but not drawn uncomfortably tight.
- Take a deep breath in and then exhale. Suck your abdominal muscles in so it feels, as you often hear workout DVD folks say, like you’re “pulling your belly button into the floor.” This technique is called “engaging” your abdominal muscles, or turning them on by tightening them. I want you to know: at this very point you are already doing half the work of the actual crunch. Yay!
- Fix your eyes on the ceiling. In order to avoid throwing your arms forward to use their momentum to pull you up, place your fingertips lightly at your ears, with your elbows bent out. You don’t want to grip your skull or neck; that’ll put stress on your neck when you crunch up.
- Keeping your eyes on the ceiling and your chin tilted a little upward, start crunching up. You should be trying to use your abdominal muscles to raise your chin and shoulders up. Don’t raise toward your knees; they should be a little more relaxed than that anyway. Keeping those abs engaged does half the work, but just crunch up until you feel really crunched. That doesn’t need to be too high; you’ll know when your abs are working! Ideally your shoulder blades will leave the ground. You also don’t have to stay up long at all. Just lower your shoulders gently back to the ground.
- Congratulations! You just did a crunch. Keep those abs engaged and do another one!