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Crunches

A strength training exercise for the abdominal muscles

Tags: high school, stretches & strength, strength training

 

Instructions:

  1. Lie on the ground with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor roughly shoulder-width apart.
  2. Place the fingertips on the back or sides of the head with the elbows pointing outward.
  3. Take a deep breath and, while exhaling, contract the abs and raise the chest and head until the shoulder blades are 1-2 inches off the floor.
  4. At the same time, pull the belly button towards the spine and flatten the lower back against the floor, squeezing the abs tightly.
  5. While inhaling, lower the shoulders back down until they are just above the ground.

Performance Points:

  • Keep the neck long and raise the chin to avoid straining the neck. There should be enough space to fit a small orange between the chin and the chest.
  • Relax the neck by using the hands to support the weight of the head.
  • Keep the elbows pointing outward from the ears and never pull the head up with the hands or interlock the fingers behind the head.
  • Breathe deeply and rhythmically throughout the exercise, exhaling when going up and inhaling when coming down.
  • Lift both the chest and the head to achieve more of a lift than a curl.
  • Keep the lower back touching ground.
  • Move slowly and with control in order to engage the abdominals throughout.

Training Specifics:

Duration / Reps:

  • Beginners: 1-3 sets of 10-15 crunches
  • Experienced Athletes: 3-5 sets of 20-25 crunches

When:

  • Before or after the main workout
  • Or as a station in circuit training (as the main workout early in the season)

You Need: A mat or other soft surface

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the abs, which are essential for stabilizing the upper body and maintaining an upright posture, which in turn enables runners to breathe efficiently and avoid energy-wasting movements of the upper body
  • Abdominal strength can also prevent injuries caused when muscles in the hips and lower back have to compensate for weak abs.

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