- Abdomen: Straight abdominal muscle
(Musculus rectus abdominis)
Abdominal Crunch is a suitable substitute for similar exercises in or as a supplement to various training plans.
Abdominal Crunch: Basics and alternatives
Involved main muscle groups:
The abdominal crunch is a timeless exercise that effectively targets your abs in the gym. To perform this exercise, you can use the abdominal press machine, which requires you to utilize your abdominal muscles to flex your upper body forward and lift the weight.
It’s rare to find a well-equipped gym without a dedicated machine for this exercise. The reason is that the abdominal crunch is a simple isolation exercise that allows you to perfectly target your rectus abdominis, also known as your straight abdominal muscle. Plus, it’s low-risk, so the likelihood of mistakes is minimal.
Essentially, the abdominal crunch is a variation of regular crunches, but with a guided movement and the option to add weight for a more challenging workout. You can also try cable crunches as an alternative.
The abdominal crunch is often recommended to beginners because of its simplicity, but it’s also very suitable for advanced users because of its excellent isolation and ability to move heavy weights.
When starting, don’t set the weight too high. Gradually increase the weight from set to set to find the appropriate weight at which you can still perform the full range of motion.
Keep in mind that not all abdominal press machines are built the same way. They differ in foot and leg positions, grip positions, and other supports. Depending on how the machine is set up, you can work different areas (top or bottom) of your abdominal muscles. However, in general, the straight abdominal muscle is trained as a whole.
Sit down on the abdominal crunch machine.
Push your butt firmly into the seat, and make sure your lower back is also touching the rear pad (if present).
Position your feet on the lower support beams or tray, depending on the machine’s design, and place your hands on the handles.
Bend your upper body towards your knees, making sure your arms and legs don’t support your movement. The movement should come exclusively from your abdomen.
Move your upper body back to the starting position in a controlled manner.
The temptation to move heavy weights with abdominal crunches is great. However, make sure you choose the weight that allows you to use the full range of motion. This is the only way to ensure that you get the best training stimulus.
If the handles are above your head, make sure not to use your arms to pull down the weight and help with the movement. Use your hands only to stabilize your body. Moving heavier weights with your arms will significantly reduce the training effect. At most, your arms can help slightly with the last repetition.