To avoid neck strain, keep the chin tucked to your chest. If this bothers you, try putting a small pillow under your head. Avoid curling up so high that you’re looking at the ceiling; stop when your shoulders are off the floor.
A variation on traditional crunches is bicycle crunches. Lying on the floor as you did for the standard crunch, lift your legs off the ground. Touch your right elbow to your left knee, then touch your left elbow to your right knee. Then reverse this motion, touching your left elbow. Continue this motion for about half a minute.
A simpler way to do this crunch is to point your toes as you curl up and touch your left elbow to your right knee, then alternate and touch your right elbow to your left knee. Concentrate on the stretch in the abs; try not to rock back and forth too much. If that is difficult, try putting your hands under your hips for support.
You can also do a simple crunch by lying on the floor, gently pulling in your abdominal muscles as you curl up and hold for about three seconds. Another way to tone your abs is to lie face-down on an incline bench with a rolled towel rolled up and placed under the small of your back, then do crunches with little or no resistance.
Although doing abdominal exercises can help tone and strengthen your stomach muscles, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t use these as a substitute for cardio exercise. Abdominal exercises like crunches are good for toning and tightening the core muscles, and can be a part of a workout routine to improve your overall fitness and health, but only using these exercises for your stomach muscles will make you look fit, not thin.
The abdominal region is composed of several muscle groups; strengthening them all enhances the six-pack effect without looking like you’re trying too hard. For example, tight abs and a toned lower back will help you attain the overall look of leanness that’s associated with having a six-pack.
If you’re only doing abdominal exercises such as crunches, you may be able to develop strong abdominal muscles, but your physique won’t give off an appearance of particularly low body fat. If you want to look lean, it’s important to reduce your body fat percentage by increasing cardio exercise and eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Many people think that only certain lucky individuals are born with stomach muscles that can be seen, but this is not true. Everyone has abdominal muscle tissue; the only difference is in how much fat covers these muscles. When you reduce your body fat percentage through exercise and diet, any muscles that are underneath will be more visible.