It's one of the only moves to get your tummy in tip-top shape for a bikini, so you better do them right. Below, the skinny on doing crunches the right way.
"Although most people have tried crunches at some point to flatten their bellies, proper form often goes by the wayside in favor of repetition volume," says Kate Brown, ISSA CFT for DailyBurn.com. "By performing crunches with correct form, youll see results sooner with half the work."
What's the difference between a sit-up and crunches? "A crunch involves lifting the upper torso (shoulders) off the floor by just squeezing the abs, while a sit-up involves utilizing the abs and hip flexors to lift the entire torso off the floor," says Brown.
In addition to helping you get killer abs, crunches are a great choice for other health reasons as well. Since a lot of your body's stability is dependent on strong core muscles, crunches can help you breath more efficiently and hold proper form during many other exercises.
With a mat on the floor lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out and to the side.
Gently support the head with your hands, making sure not to use your neck at all during this exercise, squeeze your abs.
Squeeze until your upper torso is just off the floor, and your upper shoulder are peeled back from the mat. Make sure to scoop your belly by sucking in your abs toward your spine as much as you can.
Pause for one second.
Slowly release your abs and roll back your spine to the starting position, making sure not to strain your neck.
To work your obliques (muscles located to the right and left of the abs), twist slightly to the left and crunch toward the left knee. Release and alternate with the right side.
To work your lower abs, complete a crunch with your body bent at a 90 degree angle at the hips, and your legs straight up in the air.
Shoot for 3 sets of 20 reps to start, and then increase the number of reps per set as you improve. Complete this exercise 4 times a week to see results in 6 8 weeks (if combined with a low-carb, high protein, clean diet).
See more of Kate's fitness tips at DailyBurn Life.