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Crunches Vs. Plank

Crunches Vs. Plank

Both crunches and plank exercises are popular exercises for strengthening the core muscles and attaining washboard flat abs. But which exercise is better in helping you sculpt your middle?
FitnessVigil Staff
Last Updated: Jan 13, 2018
Drawing up an exercise routine that will help you attain the body that you always wanted is a tough job. You need to take into consideration your lifestyle, your level of fitness and the nutrition you get. Although an exercise routine should be undertaken to strengthen the body, it does not hurt if an exercise regimen targets your problem areas and helps you to eliminate belly fat or thunder thighs. If you want to have a flat belly then there is no better exercises than crunches and plank exercises. When both these exercises are done in conjunction with a good cardio routine, it will help you to sculpt your middle and attain a toned body. Crunches are considered to be one of the best exercise to strengthen the core and whittle your tummy. Planks too are great for strengthening the core and creating a tight stomach. But there are basic differences between crunches and planks and each of these target different muscle groups in your abdominal area.
Technique Involved
Before we debate about crunches vs plank exercises, we have to know how each of these exercise forms are performed. To do crunches, you need to lie down on your back, with your knees bend keeping your shoulders relaxed. With your fingers lightly touching the sides of your head, you need to exhale, contract your abdomen and raise your upper body forward. Hold this position for a few seconds, inhale and lower your body to the ground. This is a basic crunches exercise which targets the Rectus Abdominis which is a long muscle that extends all along the length of the abdomen.
To do a plank exercise, you need to lie face down on the floor with your elbows tucked beneath your shoulders. Exhale and support your upper body weight by resting on your forearms and toes. Your body should form a straight line and your abdomen should be taut. Hold this position for a few seconds and lower body back to the starting position. Doing a plank exercise, targets the Transverse Abdominis which are the deep abdominal muscles that lies just beneath the oblique muscles. As you can see, both these exercises involve a different technique for its execution and it targets different muscle groups in your abdomen.
Muscle Contraction
Both plank exercise and crunches are isometric exercises but their main difference lies in how the muscles contract while you perform each exercise. When you do a plank exercise, isometric contraction of the muscles occur because you are holding this position for a specified time. The muscles of your core are exerting maximum force to hold this position, thereby strengthening it. While doing crunches, eccentric contraction of the muscles take place when you lower your upper body to the ground and concentric contraction occurs when you lift your upper body off the floor.
Risk Factors
Another difference between crunches and plank exercise is in the way it impacts the body. Doing basic crunches can over time, strain the neck muscles. Because of the technique involved in doing crunches, it reinforces bad posture (slumped shoulders and rounded upper back), which can lead to spinal problems and upper back pain. In a plank exercise, you need to make sure that you align your body in a straight line while holding the plank pose. You back should not sag while doing the exercise and there should not be excessive pelvic tilt. If you are not careful about maintaining proper posture while doing a plank pose, you might hurt your back and spinal cord.
Both crunches and plank exercises are excellent exercises for strengthening the core and attaining a flat tummy. However, doing these exercises alone without a proper total body workout that includes cardio training will not help in reducing belly fat. There are also many variations of the classic crunches and plank pose and incorporating these in your workout regimen will help you to attain a fit and healthy body.