How to Target the Top of Your Belly With Belly Exercises

A standard crunch is an effective upper-belly exercise.

A standard crunch is an effective upper-belly exercise.

The muscle of your upper belly is the top part of your rectus abdominis, the muscle that runs down your front from your ribs to your hip bones. One of the most effective exercises to work your upper abdominals is also one of the most common. The standard crunch directly targets the upper region of your belly, but the majority of the time people do this exercise incorrectly. When it comes to fitness, you don’t always need to be fancy if you can add quality to tried-and-true traditional exercises.

Lie on the floor with a mat. Find a flat surface with ample space. Since bones hitting a hard floor can be uncomfortable, put a mat or towel down to cushion yourself.

Position your limbs. Place your feet flat onto the mat or floor with your knees bent. Put both of your hands lightly behind your head or ears with your elbows pointed straight out to the sides.

Keep your chin up. Your chin should not be touching your chest because it limits the range of motion for your abdominals. Fix your eyes on the point where the wall and ceiling meet.

Get a full contraction. Exhale and lift your shoulder blades completely off the floor. Squeeze your abdominal muscles completely and pause for a second at the top to get a quality crunch.

Move slowly. Do not try to move as fast as possible and crank out low-quality crunches. Take your time and move slowly and completely up and down. You’ll really feel the burn in your abs if you are doing the exercise correctly.

Items you will need

  • Mat or towel
  • Athletic clothing


  • To keep your neck, head and chin in the correct position, imagine that you are holding a tennis ball between your chin and chest.
  • Perform other exercises that target the lower abdominals, obliques and lower back for a well-conditioned core.


  • Avoid straining and pulling on your neck as you crunch up, which can cause neck injuries and does not work your abs effectively. Your hands should be lightly placed behind your head or ears for slight neck support during the exercise.

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About the Author

Jilana Dennis is a health and fitness writer based out of San Antonio, Texas. Dennis is a nationally certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise and holds a B.S in exercise science from Illinois State University.

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