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September 09, 2023 5 min read

The double crunch is a bodyweight exercise that doubles the required effort but also brings double the results. It is a combination of the two crunch variations, the standard crunch, and the reverse crunch — both killer ab exercises on their own. The double crunch allows you to engage all the abdominal muscles, from the most superficial to the deepest layer. However, it is more than a core exercise. By combining the two crunches, you can also target the hip flexors and lower abdominal regions.

The double crunch not only helps you get to, or maintain that most desirable chiseled six-pack abs, but also strengthens the muscles that provide balance and support for sport-specific activities and big lifts — not to mention everyday activities.

Muscles Worked by the Double Crunch

This combo of two crunch exercises will activate your core and lower body, giving the following muscles a good workout:

Rectus Abdominis

Often called the abs, this pair of muscles is located on the front of your abdomen. It stretches from the ribs to the front of the pelvis. Working out the rectus abdominis helps you maintain a lean body that shows off the bumps and lines of a six-pack.

The rectus abdominis stabilizes and flexes the trunk and spine.

Obliques

You have two sets of oblique muscles, the external and internal obliques. They are located diagonally on both sides of your waist and form a connection with the top of the hip bone, the ribs, the lower back, and the fascia of the abdominals.

The external obliques are most superficial and run diagonally downward between the lower ribs and pelvis, wrapping around the sides of the waist.

The internal obliques are beneath the external obliques, running diagonally in the opposite direction between the pelvis and lower ribs.

The obliques play significant roles in trunk flexion and rotation. Movements they facilitate include lateral flexion of the spine, side bending, and torso rotation.

Hip Flexors

The hip flexors form the connection between the lower body, abdomen, and pelvis. As suggested by their name, their primary function is to flex the hips. They flex passively when you are seated, and actively when you move your knees toward your chest when performing double crunches.

Steps to Perform Double Crunches

Incorporating double crunches into your quest for a stronger core and hips can get you one step closer to a head-turning six-pack. However, warming up before your workout will prepare your muscles for the upcoming challenge, even if you intend to challenge an isolated muscle group. A warmed-up body is better able to safely execute each move, and injuries are less likely as you perform crunches.

Starting position:

Lie flat on your back and place your hands on the sides of your head with your fingertips gently touching your temples. Don't interlace your fingers or cross your hands behind your head.

Flex your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, about hip-width apart, and close to your glutes.

Here's how to do it:

  1. With elbows flared to the side and your chest open, press your lower back into the floor, inhale deeply, and brace your core.

  2. Lift your upper back and shoulders completely off the ground, tilt your pelvis, and exhale as you bring your shoulders and knees toward your belly button.

  3. Contract your abs at the top of the movement, pause, and inhale as you return to the starting position.

Suggested repetitions: Perform 2 to 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps per set.

How to Make Double Crunches More Challenging

Once you have passed the beginner stage and are ready for more intense muscle activation, you can go through all the reps of each set without putting your feet on the floor. Instead, keeping them an inch or two off the floor will tax the ab muscles even more.

Another challenging way is to start with straight legs hovering above the floor, bending at the knees with each crunch, and then stretching them out again. Not letting your heels touch the floor will keep the muscles under tension even when they're not crunched.

Proper Form for Doing Double Crunches

Using proper form is the only way to build core strength but avoid injuries, such as a strained lower back or neck.

  • Never pull your head forward, compressing your chin to your chest. This increases the risk of strained neck muscles. This typically happens if your hands are placed behind your head.

  • Keep your lower back pressed into the floor, and your core engaged throughout all the repetitions.

  • Avoid rounding your back to roll with momentum. Instead, use the core and hip muscles to perform double crunches, optimizing the full range of motion.

  • Keep a controlled pace with proper breathing to ensure your muscles get the necessary oxygen to keep up with the demands of the workout.

What are the Benefits of Double Crunches?

While showing off chiseled abs is the aim of many athletes, double crunches have additional benefits to consider.

— Convenient: Double crunches are simple exercises that can be done by anyone, anywhere. It requires no equipment, and there is no need for special training to master this exercise. It is an excellent way to exercise multiple muscle groups and improve overall well-being at the same time.

— Targets the entire core: Along with benefitting everyday movements and activities, double crunches activate all the layers of the core muscles. A strong core is a whole lot more than the desired V-shape. It also improves balance and stability.

— Improves posture: Our lifestyles damage our postures more than you might realize. Hours of sitting, hunched over keyboards, leads to a weakened core and poor posture. Maintaining an exercise routine that includes double crunches will promote better posture by keeping the core muscles strong.

— Alleviate lower-back pain: Back pain is an annoyance that can negatively affect you in many ways, from day-to-day activities to lifting and strength training at the gym. A strong core can prevent overtaxing the back muscles by sharing the load.

Conclusion

In conclusion, double crunches offer a great way to strengthen and tone your core muscles and improve hip flexibility. However, as with any workout routine, using proper form and technique is crucial to avoid injury.

Additionally, combining these exercises with other workouts like sit-ups, side planks, bicycle crunches, and squats that target different muscle groups, a healthy diet, and enough rest will lead to overall fitness improvement and wellness. So, if you are looking for a simple but effective core workout, consider adding double crunches into your ab workout routine.