Crunches With a Hip Tilt

Although crunches can work your rectus abdominis, if your form is poor, you're just wasting your time. In addition to moving too fast and coming up too high, arching the lower back is a common mistake during crunches. Not only does this reduce the isolation of your abdominal muscles, it also opens you up to back injuries. Tilting your hips can minimize the arch in your lower back and engage the lower part of your rectus abdominis to optimize your results. Master correct form, and before you know it, your abdominals will be stronger.

Step 1
Warm up your body with five to 10 minutes exercise at a low intensity so you don't get fatigued but still raise your body temperature. Jog or march in place, ride of a stationary bike or peddle on an elliptical machine. Stand upright and twist your torso slowly to the left and right without moving your lower body. Perform side bends, in which you stand upright and bend sideways as far as you can while your hands are on your hips.

Step 2
Lie on your back on a mat, place your arms at your sides and bend your knees close to 90 degrees so you can comfortably place your feet hip-width apart, flat on the floor.

Step 3
Contract your abdominals and simultaneously tighten your glutes and tilt your hips back as if to bring your pelvis closer to your rib cage. Try to eliminate the space between your lower back and the floor. Your glutes should be 1 to 2 inches off the floor. Hold this position for three seconds before releasing the tension. Repeat this movement about five times before proceeding with the crunches. Make it part of your warm-up so you get comfortable with the hip-tilting motion.

Step 4
Cross your arms in front of your chest, placing your right hand on the front of your left shoulder and your left hand on the front of your right shoulder. Alternatively, lightly place your fingertips behind your ears on the sides of your head.

Step 5
Tighten you abdominals and glutes and tilt your hips back to eliminate the space below your lower back. Then slowly raise your head and shoulder blades off the floor at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees. Focus on using your abdominals to create the motion and avoid rising higher than 45 degrees, which engages your hip flexors and takes the emphasis off your abdominals.

Step 6
Pause one second at the top of the exercise before slowly returning your upper body to the starting point. Immediately go into the next crunch and work your way up to three sets of 10 to 25 repetitions.

Warnings

Consult a physician before taking on a new exercise routine, especially if you've been inactive or have an injury or a health condition.

Tips

Exhale as you come up, and inhale as you lower down.