Abdominal workouts are never complete without a crunch or two, but the long arm crunch can revolutionize the effect and results that your time spent on the mat has. The long arm crunch increases difficulty, while releasing pressure on your neck as you raise up, since your arms are outstretched overhead, rather than tugging on your head. The long arm crunch focuses on your upper abs. Studies show that the long arm crunch is 19% more effective than a regular crunch. That means less time to better abs!
Step 1: Choose a Leg Position
Lay down on a mat and choose a leg position. Bend your knees with your feet close to your backside or stretch legs out in front of you, flexing feet. The bent knee position will ensure that your lower back maintains contact with the mat, which makes your abs do the work, rather than your back taking the brunt of the work. Outstretched legs are more challenging, as you’ll have to control your body to maintain that contact.
Step 2: Add the Long Arm Lever
Stretch your arms above your head and grasp hands together. Your upper arms should be tight against your ears during the exercise to keep your head and neck in line. The extra extension from your arms makes it harder for your abs to control your upper body, challenging your abs much more.
Step 3: Crunch Up
Maintain your position as you crunch, rising up as far as you can while maintaining proper form. Focus on keeping your abdominals tight and contracted during the crunch as you rise and lower. Lift up to about a 30 degree angle off the ground, tightening with your abs, rather than putting the focus on your shoulders.
Step 4: Mental Focus
As you complete 15-20 reps, focus on your core. Think about your abs squeezing as tight as they can on each crunch, as though you were squeezing that last bit of water from a sponge. Concentrate on keeping your low back in contact with the floor as well.
Step 5: Increase Intensity
After you have worked on your long arm crunch for 2-3 weeks, at least 3 times per week, you can make it harder in a variety of ways. Complete the more intense exercises for 15 repetition, in the bent leg position, in order to reduce pressure on the lower back.
BOSU long arm crunches: Lay back on a BOSU (half ball) ball and get in the bent leg long arm crunch position. Complete the exercise, stretching back slowly on the ball, allowing your ab wall to stretch before you rise. Work through the exercise slowly to be sure that you are not using momentum to lift.
Weighted long arm crunch: Hold a 10 lb weight plate or dumbbell in your hands, in the long arm crunch position. Raise and lower as in your traditional reps, focusing on maintaining form for as many reps as you can. If you fatigue before 15 reps, put the weight down and complete as many reps as you can until fatigue. That means, you should not be able to complete any more reps.