How to do a Crossbody Crunch

  • Lie flat on your back and bend your knees about 60 degrees.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and place your hands loosely behind your head. This will be your starting position.
  • Now curl up and bring your right elbow and shoulder across your body while bring your left knee in toward your left shoulder at the same time. Reach with your elbow and try to touch your knee. Exhale as you perform this movement. Tip: Try to bring your shoulder up towards your knee rather than just your elbow and remember that the key is to contract the abs as you perform the movement; not just to move the elbow.
  • Now go back down to the starting position as you inhale and repeat with the left elbow and the right knee.
  • Continue alternating in this manner until all prescribed repetitions are done.
Variation: You can also do all of your repetitions for one side and then switch to the other side. (

Common mistakes of doing a crossbody crunch

Holding your breath
Merges says your breathing technique while doing crunches is vital. "You need the oxygen to circulate through the blood and go to the muscle," she says. "If you're holding your breath, you could get cramps or get tired quicker, and you don't want that."
Going too fast
Abdominal exercises should be done in a steady, gradual manner with slow and controlled movements that are never jerky.
Using leg, back or neck muscles to pull you up
"All the pull should come from the abdominals, not the neck," Merges says. "If your belly button is down, you're going to be pulling from the abdominals."
Merges says abdominal exercises of some sort should be part of everyone's workout. They improve posture, stabilize the core of the body and contribute to a healthy back.
"When you understand how vital it is ... (your abdominal area) basically holds you up," she says. "It's the center of your being."
Amy Rawhouser Erdlen, physical director of the York and Southern York County YMCA, says most people want to improve the way their stomach looks.
"Flat abs are extremely hard to get," she says. "You almost have to have a genetic disposition to have that six-pack look, but you can improve what you do have."
Both Erdlen and Merges caution that all the crunches in the world won't do much good if they're not accompanied by cardiovascular exercise to take off layers of fat covering the stomach muscles.
"(Crunches) will draw your abdominals in, but it won't take the fat off around the abdominals," Merges says. "Believe me, I know the battle." (
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