Adding weight resistance to this classic waist-cinching move takes it to the next level.
The crunch is a supine isolation maneuver that activates and strengthens the entire core while simultaneously honing in on the rectus abdominis, also known as the upper abdominal muscles.
In the never-ending quest for weight loss, the abs are normally one of the focused on areas in the body. A tiny waist is seen as the ultimate body aesthetic goal for many women, while men tend to crave the virile V-shape of a thick cut chest that tapers down into a lean midsection.
Belly fat is notorious for being difficult to get rid of, especially as we age. One major contributing factor is stress. When a human experiences stress or panic, they go into fight-or-flight mode. This tricks the body into thinking it needs to store fat to survive. The body converts this flurry of adrenaline energy to fat stored in the midsection.
Origins of the Dumbbell
First introduced to the strength-training world over 2,000 years ago, the dumbbell is one of the oldest pieces of exercise equipment known to man.
In ancient Greece, men used crude crescent-shaped weights cut from stone with handles called “halteres.” These resembled a kettlebell/dumbbell hybrid. They were used to help soldiers gain strength and endurance in preparation for warfare.
The “nal” was developed in ancient India around the same time. This weight was somewhere in between a dumbbell and a barbell in length, and most closely resembled a club. Wrestlers, bodybuilders, and other athletes used them to improve their sporting skills and strength.
How to Perform a Dumbbell Crunch
Step 1: Select a dumbell of your preferred weight.
Step 2: Lie on a mat or smooth surface with bent knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor and grasping the dumbbell with both hands using a pronated grip.
Step 3: Exhaling, engage your core as you slowly curl your head, shoulders, and upper body off the mat in a controlled motion. Raise the dumbbell toward the ceiling. Keep your lower back flat to the mat throughout the movement.
Step 4: Maintaining control, inhale as you return to the starting position.
Step 5: Repeat this procedure through your desired number of reps.
- Improves coordination
- Strengthens the core
- Improves balance and posture
- Flattens the midsection
- Improves athletic performance
- Captain’s chair leg raises
- Bicycle crunches
- Oblique crunches
- McGill Crunches
Is Crunching Safe?
Crunches have gotten a bad rap in the last few years due to new definitive findings that repetitive crunching movement over time can not only cause irreparable damage to the spine, but can also effectively tear the tissues that connect your abdominal musculature to your abdominal wall. This makes the muscles come close and splay out, creating a bulge and thickening the waistline you’ve been trying so hard to taper. This applies to almost all supine abdominal exercises.
There is one major exception to this rule: The McGill Crunch. This modified crunch keeps one leg on the floor and places both hands under the glutes to effectively stabilize your spine throughout the crunching movement. It is much less damaging to your spine, and will still help build your abs.
However, it may very well still erode your abdominal connective tissues. The current conventional wisdom is to stick to planks, upright, captain’s chair, or hanging ab work.