If you're a fitness fanatic, you're probably familiar with the classic crunch. What you may not be familiar with is the proper technique -- many people perform crunches improperly. The first part of the crunch involves a hip tilt, also called a pelvic tilt. The purpose of this movement is to flatten out your lower back. Although this may be a subtle movement, it helps prevent undue stress to your lower back and allows you to get the most out of your abs-defining crunches. Whether you are a crunch-crazy veteran or just learning the exercise, perfect the hip-tilt motion before moving on to any of the many crunch variations.
Items you will need
- Exercise mat
- Stability ball
- 5-pound medicine ball
Learn the correct way to do hip tilts. Lie back on an exercise mat, keep your legs hip-width apart, bend your knees about 90 degrees and place your feet flat on the mat. Place your hands under your lower back to feel the natural arch. Suck in your stomach, draw your belly button in toward your spine and tilt your hip bones toward your rib cage. This action causes your abs to contract slightly and your lower back to flatten against the mat. Remove your hands from under your back and place your arms by your sides. Hold the position five seconds, relax and return to a neutral position with a natural arch in your lower back and repeat. Avoid lifting your butt off the mat.
Add the crunch movement once you are able to do hip tilts with proper form. Lie on the mat as if you were going to do hip tilts. You can either place your hands behind your head of cross your arms over your chest. Establish the hip-tilt position first and maintain a flat, lower back throughout the exercise. Tighten your abs, breathe out and slowly lift your head, neck and then your shoulders off the mat. Stop when your shoulder blades are off the mat. Avoid pulling your head and neck as you curl up toward your legs. Hold the position five seconds, breathe in, lower back to the mat and repeat. If you find the hip-tilt position breaking down and your lower back arching, stop, establish the hip tilt again and then continue.
Challenge yourself with another variation of the crunch -- stability ball pelvic tilt crunch. To start, hold a 5-pound medicine ball against your chest and sit on an exercise ball. Walk your feet forward, roll down and press your upper back and head into the ball. Lift your hips, contract your abs and tilt your hip bones toward your rib cage. Simultaneously lift your head and shoulders off the ball, curl your upper torso toward your legs and extend your arms toward the ceiling. Hold the position five seconds, reverse your movements and repeat.
- Start with one set of 10 reps and work your way up to two sets.
- If you have had back issues, check with your doctor before doing crunches.
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