What is a side crunch?
Before we talk about how to do side crunch, it is essential to know what side crunch is and how does it work on your body.
Also known as the side to side crunches, side leg crunches, oblique crunches, or side oblique crunch, this is a bodyweight exercise that is done to improve your core strength. It also works as an abs exercise that activates and tones your transverse abdominis and internal & external oblique muscles.
How to do side crunch?
The traditional form of side to side crunches is done without the use of any equipment. Though it may look like a simple exercise, the side oblique crunch exercise needs to be done carefully with the correct form and technique.
Here is a detailed step-by-step explanation of the traditional lying side crunch exercise:
- To begin the side crunch exercise, lie down on your right side on the yoga mat.
- Your knees must be bent and stacked together. For instance, your left knee must be on the floor and your right one must be stacked on top.
- Place your right hand at the back of your head.
- Position your left hand on the floor. This helps stabilise your body.
- Keep your chin tucked in throughout the movement.
- Your ribs and pelvis must be slightly tucked in.
- Now, keeping your lower body still, start the upward movement by activating and squeezing your right oblique.
- Curl your shoulders off the floor band perform a side bend gently. Your elbow must move towards your right hip.
- Pause at the top of the movement for 2-3 seconds.
- Gently lower to the starting position while maintaining tension in your obliques.
Sets and reps of the lying side crunch exercise: You can start by doing 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
What are some variations of the side crunch exercise?
There are several variations of the side crunches exercise that not just add variety to your workout but also give you better results.
Here are some of the most effective oblique crunches variations to try:
- Standing oblique crunch/ Standing side crunches: This is an excellent variation of the traditional exercise that activates your obliques, abs, and hips. To do the standing oblique crunch, stand straight with your knees slightly bent and hands behind your head. Putting your weight on the left leg, crunch to the right and bring your right knee towards your elbow. Return to the starting position and repeat standing side crunches on the other side.
- Side dumbbell crunch: As the name suggests, this is a weighted variation of the exercise that helps build more muscle and reduces the risk of injuries in the long run. To do the side dumbbell crunch, stand straight and grab a dumbbell in your right hand. Bend gently to your right side at the waist. Come back up and bend to your left side. This is one repetition.
- Cable oblique crunch/ cable side crunch: This is a popular and very effective variation that involves the use of a cable stack and rope attachment. Adding a cable adds constant muscle tension and helps you balance well. To do the cable oblique crunch, set the pulley machine up with appropriate weights. Grasp the handle with your left hand and pull down with your left oblique as far as possible. Pause and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Cable side crunch can be done standing or kneeling.
- Hanging side crunches: This is a great exercise to make your core, lower abdominals, lower back, and hip flexors stronger. To do the hanging side crunches, hold a pullup bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Your arms must be straight and feet off the ground. Engage your core and raise your knees towards your shoulders. Twist your torso towards one side while crunching your obliques. Repeat on the other side.
What are the benefits of a side crunch?
This is one of the best oblique exercises that has immense benefits for your fitness and health. Here are some great reasons to include side leg crunches in your routine:
- This exercise is an excellent abs workout that not just strengthens the muscles in the front such as the rectus abdominis but also the muscles on the sides of your body. These include your internal and external obliques.
- One of the most important side crunch benefits is that it gives you a strong core. This gives you a toned appearance, reduces the risk of injuries, and enhances your balance.
- This is an excellent exercise to correct postural problems. It helps prevent and manage lower back pain and stiffness.
- One of the best side crunch benefits is that it works as a good cardio workout that improves your heart health and helps you lose weight.
- This exercise can be easily done during your workouts at home. All you need is a pair of dumbbells and you can practically do this exercise anywhere anytime.
How to do a side crunch safely?
Just like any other exercise, you need to do the side crunch exercise with the proper form and technique. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- If you are doing a weighted version of the side crunch, never start with heavyweights at the outset. Start with lighter weights and build up your practice.
- Do the exercise using controlled and stable movements. Avoid moving too fast between the movements.
- Never raise your body from the neck or head. Use your abdominals to lift your body.
- In case you suffer from any pre-existing conditions, never start doing the side crunches exercise without talking to your doctor.
When done properly, the side crunch exercise strengthens your core like nothing else. However, to gain the benefits of this exercise, make sure to modify it according to your individual needs and fitness objectives. Make sure to rest between each exercise day, incorporate warm-ups, and make healthy lifestyle choices.
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