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Crunches: Why You’re Doing it Wrong, and an Alternative Exercise to Properly Engage Your Core

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

Crunches have been known world-wide for generations to be the go-to core exercise to increase core strength and to lose the unwanted pounds around your mid-section. However, since the 1980’s there have been a lot of advancement in understanding the lumber region of your trunk and methods to improve on core aesthetics and strength then by just performing crunches.

The usual way of performing crunch requires you to lie on your back with both knees bent and bring your chest to your knees (Pic 1). When this happens your vertebrae in the lower back are being compressed and tend to strain your chest by forcing your torso into an upright position that your rectus abdominous may not be able to do. In other words, to perform a perfect crunch your torso needs to line up straight as you lift your chest to your knees.

If the incorrect pattern I mentioned is happening to you, then try this alternative exercise to help build core engagement. The Dying Bug is a great core exercise that helps athletes and fitness goers understand how to keep a neutral and safe spine position in the lower back while maintaining control of the rectus abdominous and transverse abdominous (deeper level of the lower core).

To perform this movement properly start by laying completely flat on your back with your legs bent and lifted in the air while having your hands extended out in front of your body. Begin the movement by pushing your ‘belly button into the floor.’ This cue will help keep your lower back to the floor and maintain a neutral spine position. After that, start by lowering your opposite arm and leg simultaneously and end in a fully extended position with those limbs (pic 2). Go only as far as needed to be sure the lower back does not lift off the ground. Once you have completed a rep, switch sides and repeat until you can no longer keep the lower back flat to the ground.

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