Muscle group:   The abdominal muscles

Trained muscle:   All parts of the abdominal muscles

Focused muscle:   Rectus abdominis (straight abdominal muscle)

Fitness level:   Advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Own body weight exercises


Variations of the ab crunch is based on the article abdominal crunch, which explains the basics of the exercise. Please read that article first before you continue here.

Variations of the ab crunch

Doing ab crunches we have many variation possibilities we can choose from, if we are a little creative. To make ab crunches more intense we could for instance perform the exercise isometrically. We would remain in the area of highest muscle contraction with our trunk lifted from the ground. To increase the intensity even further we could perform small up and down impulses in that area. This applies for almost all variations of the ab crunch.

We continue with a selection of different ab crunch variations:

Isometric ab crunch and bicycle crunch

Isometric (static) ab crunches are very effective. Your trunk remains in an elevated position with your legs either on or lifted from the ground. The muscle tension can be increased by pressing our hands against the raised legs. Your abs holds against that pressure.

The bicycle crunch is a very intense and effective exercise. This exercise can be performed in a static position with one leg bent and the other leg and both arms stretched. From this position we can perform small up and down impulses with the upper body (highest muscle contraction).

Isometric ab crunching bears the high risk of press breathing (exhalation against closed airways) what should always be avoided.

Ab crunch variations

Ab crunch variations

Twisted ab crunch

The twisted crunch increases the activation of the oblique abdominal muscles. When we lift the upper body from the ground we alternately perform rotations toward each side. This motion has to be performed smoothly without fast or sudden movements. We can train with different leg positions. The legs could

  • remain on the floor (knees bent),
  • lift alternately (elbow and opposite knee meet),
  • both be kept elevated (feet can cross here),
  • cross on top of each other (and also lift), etc.

And also the arms could take different positions. You could either keep them on the sides of your head, stretch them alternately within the motion, or stretch both to the front.

Twisted crunch

Twisted crunch

Ab crunch on the incline bench and reverse

Doing reverse ab crunches our upper body remains on the floor. We lift our pelvis with already lifted legs. This exercise can be extended to the total crunch lifting both, pelvis and upper back, from the ground to the same time.

The ab crunch can also be practised on the incline bench or the Roman Chair. We fixate our legs under the respective cushion rolls and start in an upright sitting position. From here we slowly lower the upper body always keeping it slightly curled to prevent a hollow back. We stop the downward movement before we reach the horizontal line and start small up and down movements. Again, we can choose different arm positions and could even work out with extra weights.

Ab crunch on incline bench

Ab crunch on incline bench

Ab crunch with ball

More variety can be achieved by using different tools. A ball, for instance, offers quite some possibilities for variation. You could either fixate it between your legs, keep it in your hands, or vary its position within the movement.

Ab crunch with ball

Ab crunch with ball

Ab crunch with ball

Ab crunch with ball

There certainly are many more variations of the ab crunch. Just be creative and have fun working out.


Antagonist: Lower back muscles

Stretching: Abdominal stretches

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