Muscles Targeted: The overhead abdominal crunch is the more powerful variation of the well-known abdominal floor exercise because it targets the entire abdominal area at a higher degree of intensity.
Exercise Instructions: Lie on your back on the floor (or mat) with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Stretch your arms straight out over your head. Crunch your upper body forward and up while bringing your shoulder blades off the floor and raising your torso up in the air with your arms straight out in front of you. Slowly lower down to the original start position and repeat. Remember to squeeze your abs tight throughout the entire motion.
Why This Exercise is Important: When doing normal crunches, the hands and arms are usually placed under the neck or behind the head to serve as support. However, in the overhead variation the hands are raised while doing the exercise to serve as additional resistance. Thus, the abdominals are forced to do all the work as the core has to provide the power and strength to perform the motion. Done correctly, it will tone the abdominals faster. It will also help to develop overall balance and stability.
Things To Avoid: This is a great exercise and you will feel the “burn” while doing this move. Watch your posture and follow the exercise guide as described here closely. Concentrate and contract as you come up. The number of overhead abdominal crunches is not as important as how you perform each repetition. Do not hunch over and make sure that your back is aligned. The movement should be controlled and do not hurry when going up and down. Do the full-range of the motion for each repetition. Feel the contraction of your abdominals every time. Once you reach the top position, hold it momentarily, then slowly go down. Always power each move with your core and not your back or arms. Avoid using momentum to push yourself up. Doing so will only place more tension on your arms and not on the abdominals.
Reps and Sets: The number of reps and sets depend on your level of strength. When you start doing overhead abdominal crunches, concentrate on doing the exercise correctly instead of the number of reps you can do. More is not better when it comes to doing this type of exercise. Once you learn to do it properly, do 3-5 sets of 15-30 reps. You can then move to failure sets, if this exercise becomes too easy to perform.
Other Exercises To Use: Although the overhead abdominal crunch is very powerful, you have to work all of the different muscles in your abdominals in order to achieve a tightly toned midsection. As you progress through this exercise, you can add resistance by holding weights or a medicine ball as you do each set. Just make sure that it is not too heavy that you will lose proper form and technique. For your lower abdominals, you can do the Decline Ab Crunches or the Bent Knee AB Hip Raises. For efficiency, you can do the Reverse AB Crunches instead, so that the change of movement is fluid. For the middle and upper abdominals, the Abdominal Butt Raise is another powerful exercise for this area. Pair it with Finger to Toes Crunches and you will have a very intense, fat blasting abdominal routine. Although overhead abdominal crunches slightly target the obliques, you will want to perform additional exercises that specifically target the sides of your stomach and love handles. Lying side obliques and oblique twists are highly recommended. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of all the exercises that target the abs.