Crunches is the shortened name for abdominal crunches. The name given to the exercise that works the abdominals.
The crunch is a variation, of the very basic abdominal curl, which I'll give instructions on to begin with. But firstly, make sure you perform these exercises on a comfortable surface, being quite bony I find that a wooden floor absolutely kills, you dont have to buy an exercise mat, but it might help. Okay...
Lay on your back, head on the floor.
Bring your heels close to your bum
The position of your spine is very important. Your back should not be flat on the floor as the spine is naturally "S" shaped. Make sure there is space under your lower back, you can check this by seeing if you can slide your hand underneath. If you can, great!
Where you position your hands and arms determines how difficult the exercise will be. There are usually seven recognised postions for your hands, but basically, the intermediate level is with your fingers at your temple, elbows pointing outwards. The easiest level is with your hands straight down by your sides, hands palm down on the mat. The hardest level is with your hands above your head, although this not only makes the exercise harder, but I find it is quite uncomfortable. These techniques simply change the weight (of your arms) to be nearer or further away from the pivot point, i.e. your hips.
Lets say you've chosen the intermediate level with your fingers at your temple, you have space under your lower back, your heels are close to your bum, your feet are hip width apart, so your ankles, knees and hips are inline and you are now ready to start.
To perform the exercise most effectively, you need to be able to isolate the movement of your pelvis somewhat. As what you need to do is curl upwards and forwards, taking your head off the mat and bringing your chest towards your pelvis, and your pelvis towards your chest at the same time, as your aim is to isolate those abdominals. You are effectivly trying to get into the foetal position.
The timing of the exercise should be 2-1-2. This means 2 seconds to curl up, one second to hold the curl, and 2 seconds back down. As you can see you need to be very slow and controlled. Holding the curl longer then 1 second will make it more effective.
You should perform anything up to 20 repetitions. Research has shown that performing more has very little effect on the development on the muscles. It's basically a case of diminishing returns. If you want to do more, just do more sets.
The abdominal crunch is a very small variation of the abdominal curl. You get into the same start postion, but then bring your knees towards your chest so your thighs are at 90 degrees to your trunk. You hold then hold this positon with your legs, and begin the exercise.
The oblique curl exercises the obliques, those muslces on either side of the central abdominals.
Get into the same position as for the abdominal curl with your fingers at your temple. Then as you curl up bring one elbow towards the mid-line of the body so you're rotating your upper body very slightly. For the next repetition bring the opposite elbow towards the mid-line.
Thats the instructions over and done with. If you have hard wired opinions on abdominal cradles, and some other shit then stop reading now. Because they might differ from my opinions and you might downvote me!
Okay, I'll start the rant. Everyone's seen those abdominal cradle devices that the majority of gyms have a shit load of, and that they are always trying to offload onto the unwary public in those 5 minute long TV ad's, (yeah I know there's a specific name for those long ad's which have to have "This is an advertisment" but it escapes me at this point in time).
Anyways, my view is that abdominal cradles should only be used by beginners, so that they can get the general technique of an abdominal curl, and also to get some initial strength into their ab's.
Once they have achieved this they should then discard the thing and do the exercise freestyle. You could compare the cradle to a resistance machine. You use a resistance machine to gain inital strength in the major muscle groups, then move onto free weights, which have a range of advantages over resistance machines:
They bring into play stabiliser muscles.
The participant learns better technique.
It's simply more satisfying to press out free weights.
When doing a freestyle abdominal curl the stabiliser muscles will be those at the front of the neck. The obliques also act as Neutralisers and at the same time Stabalisers. So when curling upwards you dont end up leaning to the left or the right. If you use a cradle, the head support eliminates the need for the neck muscles to act as stabilisers, and will also lessen the tension needed in the obliques. Hopefully, I've justified my argument there to only bother with cradles if you're a beginner.
I also have a gripe with those resistance machines specifically for the ab's. You see guys on there curling the whole weight stack, groaning their fickin guts out. I mean what's the point? Why would you want to actually increase the size of your abdominals, what's wrong with just toning them? Also, the people that hold a weight on their chest and do sit-ups or crunches, just enrage me. AND...the people that do curls or crunches at 100mph, along with every other exercise they do. AND...the people who feel they have to do a thousand different variations of the crunch or curl to work their ab's, I just want to ask them...why?
Well, just my opinions everyone, take no notice, although I am fully qualified to talk what I'm talking about, but anyway.
You wanna know about Bodi-teks or Slendertone? Well click on the links then, they both take you to the same write-up by the way.
Oh God I've ruined my life