Crunches VS The Sit Up

Monday, March 04, 2013

By Tony Bahia

Personal Trainer, Martial Arts Shifu, TheGym at 99 Sudbury

Many people are unsure on the difference between a sit-up and a crunch and in fact some people consider crunches and sit-ups one in the same. Let it not be mistaken they are quite different...

The Crunch

Crunches are typically favored over sit-ups since they are not as challenging an exercise, but they still work to tighten and strengthen core abdominal muscles. Weights like medicine balls, kettle bells, plates, dumbbells or even bands can also be incorporated to add more tension to strengthen your abdominals. When doing a crunch, your back does not leave the floor. Many can describe a crunch as a partial sit-up. It is also important to perform crunches correctly, since you can cause neck problems by placing your hands behind your neck as leverage. Crunches are a great exercise to work your core to strengthen and/or burn the fat located in abdominal area.

To do a proper crunch, lie on a hard surface with your knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Beginners can rest their arms on their chest, or hold your hands lightly at your ears. Do not pull on your neck to pull your body up. Raise only your head and shoulders from the floor until you feel the abdominal muscles contract. Exhale when you bring your body up and inhale when you lower it.

The Sit Up

A sit-up is a more strenuous exercise than a crunch. You must raise your upper body completely from the floor. A complete sit-up uses your abdominal muscles as well as that  other stabilizing muscles – in the chest, neck and lower-back as well as hip flexors and lower-leg muscles (if you hook your feet). When you do sit ups you also target your hip flexors, back, glutes and arms. Your arms help propel your body up while your glutes acts as the pivot point. People incorporate sit-ups into their exercise program to strengthen their abdomen and hip flexor muscles. However, since sit-ups can be more straining than a crunch, it can be uncomfortable for some people starting out or people with injuries or other problems related with neck, back or legs. Sit ups done with weighs or bands to increase the resistance are very effective to develop abdominal strength and definition.

For a proper sit-up, hook your feet under a secure object for stability or, if you have a workout partner, have your partner hold your feet. Rest your hands lightly behind your head or across your chest. Exhale when you rise, using your abdominal muscles to move your body forward until you are in a semi-seated position. Inhale as you lower yourself slowly back to the floor. Many exercise regimens rely on crunches, while others solely rely on sit-ups to strengthen the midsection. However, including both in your workout is more beneficial and will definitely yield the best result.