The crunch and the sit-up target different muscle groups and each has a function in a core body workout
Including both crunches and sit-ups in your workout will strengthen all the muscles of your midsection. The fact is both exercises have their place in a healthy workout.
The difference between the crunch and the sit-up
The crunch exercises only the abdominal muscles, while the full sit-up involves both the abdominals and other stabilizing muscles—in the chest, neck and low-back as well as hip flexors and lower-leg muscles (if you hook your feet).
The traditional full sit-up is not a bad exercise. However, because it involves so many muscle groups it is not advised for people with neck, back or hip problems. Still, for those without these concerns, there’s nothing wrong with doing sit-ups.
How to do a proper crunch
Lie on the floor, legs bent at the knees, feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor. Rest your arms on the floor at your sides, cross them on your chest or hold your hands lightly at your ears.
Raise only your head and shoulders from the floor to feel the abdominal muscles contract. Avoid pulling or flexing your head forward; keep your eyes looking above and ahead of you.
Return to your starting position. Exhale as you rise and inhale as you lower.
How to do a proper sit-up
You can hook your feet under a secure object for more stability, but this will use muscles in the hips and legs, putting less stress on the abs.
Place your fingertips at your ears, or rest your hands lightly behind your head, crossed on your chest or lying at your sides. The neck should be slightly flexed (head tucked forward) for less involvement of the back.
Concentrate on using abdominal strength to curl your upper body off the floor until you are upright in a semi-seated position. Exhale as you rise. Inhale as you lower back to the floor.
Exercise routine for crunches and sit-ups
Two to four sets of 10 to 25 repetitions (no less than twice weekly) for both exercises is sufficient to strengthen muscles.
Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.