The 5 Best Back-Friendly Crunches – Bigger Stronger Leaner – COMMUNITY


Hit Your Abs Without Hurting Your Back

If you’ve been skipping ab work because of an irritated back, check out these options, then modify them for your needs.


Once upon a time, someone in the fitness industry claimed that crunches caused back problems. Well. They were wrong. And then we all went about our merry way doing crunches again.

But if you have a tricky back, it’s smart to err on the side of caution and only hit your abs in a way that won’t re-irritate it. So, check out these five options:

Top 5 Crunches

The order of exercises here progresses in difficulty. So, only do what you know you can recover from without unnecessary pain.

1. Stick Crunch

If you’re just starting or resuming your core training, then you can’t go wrong with stick crunches. Not only do you get some quality end-range hip flexion activation and strengthening, but the hip position creates a healthy default motion of minimal flexion at the spine. Lastly, the disc pressure associated with regular crunches is lower with this version.

2. Reverse Crunch

In the video, you’ll see a variation with the band around the hips, but you can remove it to make this easier. To make it harder, try adding an element of rotation, where one knee comes into contact with the opposite-side (contralateral) elbow.

You’ll get a lot out of the reverse crunch if you’re dealing with poor posture like lordosis or lower crossed syndrome. The lower fibers of the rectus and obliques are often neglected in these cases, which the reverse crunch can help restore. Lastly, the isometric pull at the shoulder enhances force production since the lats share a force pair with the abs.

3. Weighted Stability Ball Crunch

If stability ball crunches are too easy for you, add some load. Just remember, too much time under tension with core training can cause subtle micro-movements or shifts in the spine that cause pain, even though the slow-twitch fibers respond to longer set times and more reps.

The weighted ball crunch solves this potential problem since there’s so little available motion and room for error. Furthermore, challenging and building stability on this ball further increases abdominal involvement. You’re creating a stronger base with just enough instability.

4. Jackknife

We don’t normally classify this as a crunch variation, but there’s some end range and non-threatening bending of the spine, which is exactly what a crunch movement trains. The prone position increases abdominal pressure, and you’ll use the transverse abdominus to create a healthy spine position when bending.

5. Hanging Leg Raise

There are a lot of ways to progress this exercise. You can make it easier or harder by bending the knees, adding weight, increasing the range of motion, extending the legs, and much more.

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