Muscles Targeted: The squirm crunch exercise targets your entire core area without the need to use any specific workout equipment. The core is the body’s center of power. Targeting your core provides postural support which is a key element in achieving a pain-free back. When an exercise targets the core, most people think it is just targeting the abdominals. However, it is actually referring to the muscles located around your spine and back that attach to your pelvis. Your core abdominal area is made up of six abdominal muscles, two of which (external and internal obliques) each consists of two muscles. These core muscles are where your movement originates and by strengthening these muscles you are also strengthening your stability.
Exercise Advice: Place a padded exercise mat on the ground. Sit back at about a 45° angle with your arms stretched straight out in front of you. Your heels should be slightly lifted off the floor when you have reached the correct backward lean angle. Start by crunching or “squirming” by reaching one hand through your legs diagonally. Try to reach for the opposing heel and touch it if you have enough flexibility. Pull your arm back to the starting position and repeat on other side with your hand reaching in the opposite direction.
Things To Avoid: There are several common mistakes you should try to avoid while performing any type of crunching movement including the squirm crunch. These tips include holding your breath, moving too fast, and using your leg, back, or neck muscles to pull you up instead of using your core muscles. Each one of these can not only impede your progress but also cause unnecessary strain and even lead to a pulled muscle if you are not careful while exercising. Below is more detailed information on each item:
- Holding your breath. Your breathing technique is a vital and important part of any workout and exercise routine. Your blood must be able to circulate the oxygen in your system to your muscles or else you may experience cramping or fatigue which will inevitably hinder the progress of your workout. Holding your breath will only slow down the rate in which your muscles will receive oxygen. You should exhale as you reach out and exert yourself and inhale as you move back to the starting position.
- Moving too fast. When performing this exercise you should never use quick, jerky movements but rather move in a slow and gradual manner, with a very controlled pace and smooth tempo.
- Not using your core muscles. Using your legs, back or neck muscles to achieve the crunch causes strain in muscles that you are not intentionally targeting and takes away from the benefits that the exercise should have on the intended core muscles. The muscles being engaged with the squirm crunch should be focused on the abdominal area.
Reps and Sets: If you are looking to build a stronger and more powerful core, the squirm crunch needs to performed correctly. Your form is crucial when performing this movement so beginners should start out with only 3-5 repetitions for 1-2 sets in order to get the exercise technique down. Depending on your fitness level, you can increase your overall sets and reps but make sure you are performing the movement correctly before increasing the intensity. Advanced individuals can try doing 3-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions while combining additional core exercises in their overall training routine, as described below.
Other Exercises To Use: You can combine several different core exercises with the squirm crunch to create your own custom core workout routine. Some other great movements to include are the Russian Twists, Scissor Cross and the Elevated Leg Curl Up.