How to do ab crunches for beginners: the best stomach exercises to tone up

Knowing how to do ab crunches and sit ups with the proper technique can mean the difference between getting a six pack fast or getting a neck strain. Bad posture during sit ups is a constant source of grief for a lot of gym goers and if you are just at the beginning of your journey for a flat and muscular stomach, you’d better pay attention to what we are about to discuss here.

Ab crunches and sit ups are one of the many classic calisthenics exercises, much like push ups, that everyone thinks they know how to do properly, yet most people fail to do them right. To confuse matters even more, there are a lot of variations and it can be cumbersome to know which works best for you.

If you want to have a well-sculpted six pack, you’ll need to do two things: 1) do a killer abs workout and 2) lose some weight so your abdominal muscles actually show.

New to resistance training? Check out our other how-tos, like how to do deadlifts, how to do a bench press, or how to do squats. Maybe you would like to know how to do an overhead press correctly to build bigger arms and shoulders or how to do bent over rows for big back gains and strong biceps? We have it all.

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Warm up and diet

Abdominal muscles are high load-bearing muscles which is equally as good as it is bad, depending on the perspective. It’s good because they don’t need much warm up, which shortens down the time spent with exercising and therefore you can literally spend 5-10 minutes a day working on them.

The downside is, you will need to work them harder for them to take notice. The usual hypertrophy range (the rep range that make muscles grow bigger) of 8-12 reps don’t apply to abs. Bomb them with 15-20 reps in each set and you will feel the burn sooner.

As mentioned above, all the abs workouts won’t do much good if you aren’t paying attention to what you eat. This is especially true to men. The typical dad bod is the result of men building up fat reserves around their waists first. If you want your six pack to show, you will need to lose weight as well as work your abs.

Important: if you had some time off exercising and especially if you are just looking into starting exercising for the first time, you might want to ease yourself into it, starting off with less reps and always checking your body metrics. And if you have any concerns about exercising, please consult a medical professional first.

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How to do ab crunches (correctly)

Why are ab crunches so popular? This exercise is easier to perform than sit ups and don’t require any external equipment either. To perform ab crunches correctly, you only have to lift your shoulders and head up off the ground just enough to feel your abs flexing. It is very important not to pull with your arms and not to have the arms behind your head either.

Starting position is legs being bent in 90 degrees and upper body on the floor. Arms are either resting next to the body on the floor. Before you move your upper body, engage your core so your back and abs are ready for the movement.

How to do sit ups (correctly)

The main reason sit ups have been banished from abs workouts is because they are performed incorrectly 90% of the people. To do sit ups correctly, you should have some abdominal muscle strength already.

Don’t try to do sit ups without leg support either, that’ll put way too much pressure on your back. If you are working out at home, get an under door crunch bar or a sit up bench (maybe a multi-functional weight bench).

With sit ups, keep your back straight throughout the movement. Keep your core engaged all the way through the movement and go as far as your hamstrings let you. Also make sure you don’t slam your back against the floor as you return to the starting position. Best to get a yoga mat and do sit ups (and ab crunches) on a softer surface.

For added resistance, you can try holding a kettlebell or dumbbell in your hands or try resistance band kneeling crunches (detailed below).

Ab crunch and sit up variations and alternatives

Target your abs from all angles for maximum activation.

  1. V sit ups: Similar to planks, this is a stationary abs exercise that will really challenge your perception of time, meaning you will reevaluate how long a minute really is. V sit ups are performed sitting on the floor, legs being straight and raised in a 45-degree angle, back straight and also raised in a 45-degree angle. Arms are – wait for it – extended in front of you, parallel to the floor, so pointing away and in front of you. All you have to do is to hold this position. Sounds easy? It isn’t. Also, it is advised to stretch your hamstrings before you try doing V sit ups.

This expert fitness advice for complete beginners will tell you how to get in shape for 2020

The best abs exercises for beginners: start on the road to six pack success