Some benches are designed specifically for doing crunches, but they are not necessary. Crunch benches do not allow the abdominal muscles to experience the full range of motion needed to develop additional muscle, and you might not see results from using one.
Most crunch benches do not adjust to fit all body types. This may force your body to fit the machine, which is not a good situation. Some crunch benches have pads or slots for resting your arms. They are meant to provide stability, but once your back and neck muscles become tired, your arms take over the work, resulting in poor posture and possible muscle strain.
Instead, try these alternative exercises.
A Swiss Physioball is better than a crunch bench for engaging the abs, because it allows the spine to curve naturally and not flex or extend beyond a safe angle.
- Lie back with your hips against the ball, your knees bent at 90 degrees and your butt off the floor.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Roll yourself down the ball until your lower spine is pressed into the ball.
- Keep your eyes fixed on the ceiling and your neck straight but comfortable.
- Crunch to about 45 degrees, then control your descent back to the ball.
- Complete 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps.
Lumberjack Medicine Ball Slams
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your right heel about 6 inches ahead of your left toes.
- Raise the ball over your left shoulder, then slam it into the ground in front of your right foot (avoid hitting your foot with the ball).
- Allow the ball to bounce, catch it and repeat.
- Switch your stance and repeat on the left side.
- Complete 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps with a weight that is comfortable for you. Don't risk hurting yourself with a heavy ball. Work up to where you are comfortably challenged.
- Study Identifies Top 5 Abdominal Exercises
- The Death of the Crunch?
- Why Crunches Alone Won't Burn Belly Fat
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