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Ab Exercises: Crunches or Planks - Which Is Better?

When it comes to strengthening your core and sculpting your abdominal muscles, two popular exercises often come to mind: crunches and planks. But which one is more effective?


Crunches are a traditional and widely recognized ab exercise. They primarily target the rectus abdominis, the muscle responsible for that sought-after six-pack appearance.

Performing crunches can help strengthen and define this muscle group.

There are numerous crunch variations, including reverse crunches, bicycle crunches, and oblique crunches. This variety allows you to focus on different aspects of your core. Crunches require minimal or no equipment, making them accessible for most individuals, whether at the gym or in the comfort of your own home. Crunches can be a time-efficient exercise, as they can be integrated into your workout routine in a matter of minutes.

The downside of crunch:

Risk of Neck and Back Strain: Improper form in crunches can lead to neck and lower back strain. Many people tend to pull on their necks during crunches, which can lead to discomfort or injury.

Limited Functional Benefits: While crunches target the rectus abdominis, they do not engage the entire core comprehensively. This means they have limited functional application in everyday movements.

Not Suitable for Everyone: Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as herniated discs or lower back issues, may find crunches uncomfortable or unsafe.


Planks are a static, isometric exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, with a primary emphasis on the transverse abdominis and the entire core. Here's how to perform a basic plank:

  1. Start in a push-up position with your forearms on the ground and elbows directly under your shoulders.

  2. Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels, engaging your core muscles.

  3. Hold the position for as long as you can, keeping your back straight and not allowing your hips to sag.

Planks engage not only the rectus abdominis but also the obliques, transverse abdominis, and lower back muscles, making them a comprehensive core-strengthening exercise. Planks can help improve posture by strengthening the muscles that support the spine. Planks are a low-impact exercise, reducing the risk of strain or injury often associated with high-repetition movements.

Which One Should I Choose?

The choice between crunches and planks depends on your fitness goals and physical condition. If you're looking for visible six-pack abs, crunches can help isolate and develop the rectus abdominis for a more defined appearance. If you want overall core strength, planks are the better option, as they engage a broader range of core muscles and promote better functional fitness. If you have lower back issues or need low-impact exercises, planks are gentler on the lower back and reduce the risk of strain.

Both crunches and planks have their place in an effective ab workout routine. To maximize your results, consider incorporating both exercises into your training program. Crunches can help you achieve a chiseled appearance, while planks will provide comprehensive core strength and functional fitness benefits. Remember that proper form and consistency are key, and it's always a good idea to consult a fitness professional to tailor your ab exercises to your specific fitness goals and needs.

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