The Death of the Crunch?

August 15, 2012

Must See Strength Training Videos

The Crunch is one of the most popular ab training exercises. Simple to perform, it has long been touted as the key to a strong core and shredded abs. But are more crunches really the answer?

Many trainers have actually begun removing the Crunch and similar exercises from their training programs. Learn what’s causing the slow death of the Crunch.

Stability Over Flexion

The Crunch and the Sit-Up involve a flexion of the spine and primarily engage the abdominals. Although the movement is great for the upper abs, it does very little for the rest of the core and doesn’t really enhance athleticism.

Think of any athletic movement that you regularly perform. You probably aren’t crunching up off the ground. Most sports skills are performed standing, and they involve power generated from the legs, up through the core and into an upper-body movement, like blocking a shot or pushing through an opposing lineman. If your core isn’t stable during these movements, you lose valuable power, have poor balance and put yourself at risk for injury.

Stability exercises increase strength in the entire core, including muscles in the front, sides and back of the body. A full 360 degrees of core strength locks in your spine and provides the stability you need to perform powerful athletic movements.

Stability Exercises

The basic stability exercise is the Plank. During the Plank, the entire core engages—even deep core muscles that are dormant during the Crunch—to maintain the position. Although the Plank doesn’t simulate an on-field skill, resisting gravity helps you maintain stability during other exercises and athletic movements.

The basic Plank can also be adapted for other stability exercises. The most common modifications are the Side Plank and the Superman, which target the sides and back of the body, respectively. However, you can take this a step further by performing a standing Plank with the Pallof Press; asymmetrically loading your core with a Standing Single-Arm Cable Press or Row; or performing exercises with the TRX Rip Trainer.

Verdict

If you want to get the most out of your core training, stability exercises are better than Crunches. Even though you aren’t crunching to directly engage the abs, you get a stronger and a more defined core with stability exercises.

You don't have to completely eliminate crunches from your training; just make sure they’re not the featured exercise in your core workout. Final verdict: the Crunch is not dead, but it's moribund.

Photo:  fitnessbeans.com

Topics: CORE | ABS
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
Must See
NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone
Views: 28,207,060
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,559,831
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 4,779,213

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 66,647
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 5,931
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 127,960
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,654
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,206
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,612
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,718
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,559,831

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Not Making Bench Press Gains? Try These Strategies

"How much do you bench?" This is the most popular question asked to people who look like they lift weights. That's because the bench press is the most...

Evan Longoria's Off-Season Strength and Resistance Workout

Build a Strong Upper Body With These Landmine Exercises

Train Like a Pro: Henrik Zetterberg's Hockey Strength Workout

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

Get Faster With This Weightlifting Technique

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

3 Habits of Highly Successful Coaches

Train Like a Pro: Los Angeles Lakers Strength Training Program

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

Add Surprise Sets for a Great Workout Finisher

3 Tips to Blast Through Training Plateaus

Get Faster to Pitch Harder

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

5 Quick Workout Fixes for Faster Muscle Growth

Build Bulletproof Chest Strength With This Unconventional Method

The Top 10 Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Build Athletic Strength with the Playground Sandbag Workout

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Full-Body Workouts

Tobin Heath's Powerful Leg Workout

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Jump Higher After a Month With These 3 Exercises

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Todd Durkin's Complete Football Strength Training Program

3 Keys to Better Softball Workouts

Bicep Curl Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

How You Can Olympic Lift With an Injury

Train Like a Pro: Julio Jones 3-Day Sandbag Strength Program

Kevin Love's In-Season Workout

Train Like a Pro: MLS Soccer Strength Program

Is It Too Soon for Olympic Lifts?

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Train Like a Pro: Baseball Strength Workout Program

Paul Rabil's Powerful Rotational Strength Workout

The Un-Liftable Inch Dumbbell: Can You Handle Its Challenge?

Train Like a Pro: James Harden's Basketball Maintenance Workout

The 4 Best and Worst Cable Machine Exercises

Abby Wambach's Soccer Power Workout

2 Brutal 10-Minute Workouts That Deliver Serious Results

Build Strong Legs with the Leg Press Lockdown Workout

Train Like a Pro: Dustin Pedroia's Baseball Power Workout

4 Tips for Reducing Deadlift Back Pain