Tummy crunches are among the most popular abdominal muscle exercises. A variation of the sit-up, the move is commonly known as simply a "crunch" and is one of the stomach exercises that helps to promote the sculpted "six-pack" look. Tummy crunch exercises and sit-ups alike work the muscles of the core — the muscles in the stomach and lower and mid back — and are included in many workout routines.
One of the main exercises from the upper and lower abdominals, as well as the oblique muscles, the tummy crunch is done most often while lying on the ground. The move is started with the knees bent and the feet on the floor. The back, buttocks, and shoulders are also pressed against the floor, and the hands are positioned either behind the head with fingers interlocked or crossed over the chest.
To execute a tummy crunch properly, the abdominals are used to raise the upper body towards the legs. The stomach muscles should do all of the work as the chest remains up, the chin remains off the chest, and the lower back is moved off the floor. The crunch can be done with a full range of motion, moving the chest all the way up to the knees, or with a limited motion, where only the upper back leaves the floor and the abs are contracted on a smaller scale.
The tummy crunch can be varied in a number of ways to make it easier or more difficult. It can be made more difficult by adding weight onto the chest, by doing the exercise suspended from a bar, or by reclining the body so that the head begins well beneath the legs on a declined workout bench. Like other exercises, should not be done every day; the muscles should be afforded at least 48 hours to recover. This exercise should usually be done in sets of at least ten repetitions, though a more common number is closer to 25.
Most versions of the tummy crunch can be done by anyone of varying fitness levels. The workout can be complemented with a slew of other abdominal workouts. It is also a common part of many fitness tests required for different professions or services. A tummy crunch can help to provide an attractive and toned mid-section if the right diet and workout routine accompany it.