Crunches is the go-to exercise when it comes to working out your abs. Sometimes bodyweigth just doesn’t cut it anymore and you want to add more resistance to your ab workout. Bands are a great tool for that and are even better when weights, due to the progressive resistance curve. Due to this behavior of bands you will get a maximum contraction of your abs when you fully crunch.
In this article we will cover how to perform a perfect crunch with bands, as well as what other variations you can incorporate in your training. We will also cover how you can progress by adding more resistance and multiple tips we came up with by training with resistance band for years.
We start by showing you the right way of doing crunches. In the second part of the article we then cover variations and great tips to help you maximize your performance and get a great workout.
Crunches With Resistance Band
Then here we go, let’s get your crunch game to the next level!
Band VS Weights & Machine
Doing your crunches with a resistance band gives you several advantages over doing them with a free weights.
- Follow the natural strength curve of your muscle! The resistance of a band will always increase the more you stretch it and that’s also the natural strength curve of your muscle, having the most power in the full contraction. With free weights, you often fatigue in the expanded part of your muscle without fully fatiguing the whole muscle.
Especially for the crunch we want to have the peak contraction in fully crunched state and bands are perfect for providing exactly that.
- Versatility! With one band you can simulate a variety of resistances depending on the stretch and also use it to train your whole body.
There are also more reasons to favor resistance bands over traditional free weights or machines, like reducing the stress on your joints, getting more peak contraction, and many more. But we’re talking here about doing crunches, so if you’re interested in background info about what benefits resistance bands give you in strength training and muscle building, check it out here.
How To Crunch The Right Way
Crunches are great to strengthen our frontal core, basically the abs. “When do I use my core anyway?” – you might ask… Well all the time. Our core is responsible for you being able to walk upright and holding you in a given position. So basically you use your core every second of your awake time in a given day. This also means that the core and especially the abs stabilize you in every exercise you are doing. Be it deadlift or biceps curls. But exercise aside… You don’t want to get anymore back pain and have a good posture? Work on your core! Abs are one side of the core coin.
I don’t think I have to explain the form of a basic crunch. Lie down on the floor. Bend your knees while placing your feet on the ground. Take your hands in front of you or behind your head. And crunch up. Make sure not to lift your lower back of the ground.
Now how do we incorporate band into this whole game? Well you have 3 possibilities to perform the classic crunch with bands. Lying down on the floor, kneeling and standing.
Lying Crunch – Basically this is the standard crunch but you will use bands to increase the resistance. For that you will need an anchor point behind you. You can use a door anchor or fix the band at heavy furniture, like a sofa or bed. From here you have to lie down in some distance to the anchor point, so the band is already stretched in the starting position and has some resistance.
You can either fix the band behind your head or hold it in front of you so your hands go between your legs when you crunch.
Kneeling Crunch – In this version you will be kneeling and pulling the band from above. Her too you will need to attach the band to point. This time above you. A door is perfect for that if you train at home. Simply use a door anchor and you’re good to go. But you can also use a tree or a bar at a playground. Get creative!
In the starting position make sure that band already has some resistance. You can grab it further towards the fix point to achieve this.
From here use your abs and not your hip flexors to crunch. The best visual you can have in your head is to try getting your shoulder towards your belly button.
Standing Crunch – Especially great for outside, since you don’t need to lie down or kneel on the ground. But also a great way to mix it up. This time the fixing pint is behind you. A door, a tree or a bar will do. Grab the band with your hands in a way that it is already stretched in the starting position. Place your hands on your shoulders to make sure your arms don’t help during the crunch. Then try to move your shoulders towards your belly button until you are in full crunch. From there performs the opposite movement in a controlled manner. Don’t let the band pull you up. Resist the pulling of the band on the way back in the starting position.
That’s basically the crunch with bands folks. Not too complicated in theory, but it takes quite some time to perfect the form. There are actually many tweaks to this exercise that I have listed below so make sure to check them out
Important Do’s & Don’ts!!!
No Slack – when you’re in the starting position of your crunch, there shouldn’t be any slack in the band. The band should already be stretched a little bit so you feel a force pulling you either back or upwards (depending on the variation). If you have a slack here you will lose a lot of time under tension!
If it is not possible for you to crunch fully, simply grab a lighter band.
No Hip Flexors Involvement – this is the most common error then performing crunches. Often it happens because people add more resistance than their body can handle. Our body is smart… It will try to perform the movement anyway but use stronger muscles for that. The hip flexor gets into play than the abs can’t handle the load by themselves. The problem is that you take away tension from the abs. This not the purpose of the crunch. We want the abs to work!
Constantly keep thinking about not flexing your hips and rather about moving your shoulders towards your belly button.
If you have problems doing crunches as shown above, please check below some alternative ways that will help you find the perfect crunch variation with resistance bands for you.
Alternative Ways To Crunches With Resistance Bands
With every version of an exercise, you will find people that really like it and others that don’t like it that much. If you have problems with doing crunches as described above (while executing it the right way), you might want to try one of these crunch variations.
Mountain climbers – This one is tough! Not only will your abs work overtime, it is actually also a great exercise to strengthen the whole core. You are basically in a push up position. Holding only that will activate your abs already. But we are not finished here. Now you will grab a small loop band, or double up a very light big loop band and put your feet in the loop. Place your feet far enough apart so the band is stretched. From here on you will alternate the feet and bring your knee in a controlled manner towards your elbows. You can also try doing one leg at a time to feel the burn even more!
Bicycles – Basically the inverted mountain climbers. Best performed with a small loop band or a doubled light big loop band. Lie down on the floor, put your feet in the loop and now bring one knee and the opposite elbow together. Alternate legs and arms every repetition. Respect if you can touch the very single rep!
Reverse Crunches – To switch it up you can also add the reverse crunch to your routine. In this variation you don’t move your upper body. Instead, you move your legs. Warp the resistance band around your feet. Get into position by lying down on the floor and bringing your legs into a 90-degree angle (knees and hips). Now bring your knees towards your shoulders. Lift your butt slightly off the ground to get a better contraction in your abs.
T.U.T. – Time Under Tension
Compared to weights where you have the same force applied to any position of the movement, bands will add more resistance the further you stretch them – this will lower the time under tension your muscle has during a set in the starting position. Focus on doing the exercise controlled and try to hold it for a second or two in the fully contracted position and don’t let the band snap back but slowly go back to the starting position.
Full Core Workout
Simply doing Crunches is not a full Core workout. Your lower back is the counter player to your abs, only together they make strong body and a good posture – we have here a full core workout with different exercises that will give you the strongest core you can ever think of and keep you healthy for years to come – check it out here.