If done properly, crunches are one of the most effective ab exercises. When done incorrectly, the abs don't get the workout they could. Even worse, the neck and back can be strained in the process.

The key to good crunching is to let your abs do the work, and not some of the other body parts that seem to want to get involved. Next time you crunch, focus on keeping these areas still:

  1. HEAD AND NECK. To avoid bending your neck forward as you lift yourself up, pretend there's a grapefruit between your chin and upper chest.
  2. ELBOWS. If you're doing crunches with your hands behind your head, keep your elbows pointed outward throughout each crunch.
  3. LOWER BACK. Keep your lower back pressed against the floor.