What is a weighted crunch?

Crunches are one of the most popular bodyweight exercises for building core strength. They activate the rectus abdominis, or the six-pack muscle, and improve your stability. 

As the name suggests, a weighted crunch, also known as weighted ab crunch, is a variation of crunches that involves the use of weights. It not just adds resistance to the movement but also makes them more intense, giving you the benefit of progressive overload. 

For weighted crunch, dumbbells can be used along with kettlebells, weight plates, cable machine, or a medicine ball. 

The weighted crunch exercise targets a range of muscles in your core region including the external and internal obliques, rectus femoris, and rectus abdominis. The exercise also works on your lower back muscles.

How is a weighted crunch done?

Just like any other weighted exercise, the weighted crunch exercise also needs to be done with caution and with the correct technique. 

Here is a detailed step-by-step explanation of how to do a dumbbell weighted crunch:

  1. To do the dumbbell weighted crunch, lie on a yoga mat on your back. Grab a dumbbell and hold it close to your chest. 
  2. Your knees must be bent and your feet must be flat on the floor. 
  3. Keep your spine and pelvis straight and neutral. 
  4. Keep your chin tucked in throughout the movement.
  5. Your core must be engaged.
  6. Now slowly begin the upward movement by squeezing your abs and curling your shoulders off the floor. You can bring your shoulders around 4-inches off the floor. Make sure that your lower back remains in contact with your floor.
  7. At the top of the movement, squeeze your abs and hold the pose for 2-3 seconds. 
  8. Slowly lower to the starting position while maintaining flexing your abdominals. 

Sets and reps of the weighted crunch dumbbell: You can start by doing 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions. Gradually build your practice. 

What are some variations of weighted crunches?

There are several variations of the weighted ab crunch exercise that add variety and challenge your fitness regime. 

Here are some of the most effective variations for you to try:

  1. Weighted incline crunches: This is a great exercise that guarantees a strong core and defined abs. As the name suggests, the weighted incline crunches are done by positioning yourself on an incline bench at an angle of 45-degrees and following the steps of the traditional exercise.
  1. Weighted reverse crunch: This exercise is done by reversing the placement of the weight. Instead of holding the weights with your hands, it is held between the feet. The weighted reverse crunch is a challenging version of the standard exercise and places more resistance on your movement. To do this exercise, you need to brace your abs and raise your hips to move your legs towards your chest. 
  1. Weighted cable crunch: This is an advanced variation of the traditional exercise that is done using a cable pulley machine. The weighted cable crunch is an effective exercise to build a stronger core and shoulders. To do the weighted cable ab crunch, place a flat bench in front of the pulley machine and set appropriate weights. Stand up to grasp the rope from behind your head and sit on the bench. Keep the cable at the height of your head and lower your head near your upper thighs. Pause for a second and return to the starting position of the weighted cable ab crunch. 
  1. Weighted ball crunch: This variation is done by placing yourself on a Swiss ball and allows you to utilise your abs across their whole range. To do the weighted ball crunch, lie on a Swiss ball while holding a weight across your chest. Remember to lower your back all the way. The remaining movements remain the same as in the standard exercise form.
  1. Weighted straight leg crunch: This is an advanced variation of the standard exercise in which you need to keep your legs perpendicular to the floor and follow the same steps of a weighted crunch. This variation is very effective in building better core strength and targeting your abdominal muscles, much more than the traditional form of this exercise.

What are the benefits of weighted crunches?

Here are some great reasons to include the weighted crunch exercise in your workout regime:

  1. One of the most important weighted crunches benefits is that it is an excellent strength training exercise that helps you build a strong upper body. Better muscle strength and endurance makes you more agile and give you a toned appearance. 
  2. Whether you are doing an incline weighted crunch or its seated or standing version, it helps you build a stronger core. This stabilises your back and prevents injuries.
  3. This is a great exercise to improve your bone density and prevent degenerative conditions such as osteoporosis.
  4. Being a weighted ab exercise, it improves your posture and prevents lower back pain and stiffness. 
  5. Doing this exercise requires a minimal setup. This makes it easy to include it in your home workouts.

How to do weighted crunches safely?

Here are some ways to do the weighted crunch exercise safely:

  1. Don’t start doing this exercise on your own. Instead, learn it from an experienced trainer. This helps prevent injuries and doing it with a correct form.
  2. Start with lower weights and build your practice gradually. This is especially important during exercise for beginners.
  3. Make slow movements instead of jerking your body.
  4. Never use your head or neck to raise your body. Use your core to lift your body.
  5. In case you suffer from any pre-existing medical conditions, never start doing this exercise without talking to your doctor.


The weighted crunch exercise is a great way to build core strength. However, to see constant progress, remember to modify it according to your health and conditioning. Incorporate proper nutrition, hydration, and warm-ups in your routine to gain the benefits of this exercise.  

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May 17, 2022

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