The regular crunch exercise is great but you can also modify it. Discover how to do double crunches and what the benefits are.
Double crunches are a crunch variation where you lie down on your back and move both your hips and shoulders toward each other.
This still works your abs like in the regular version but you focus more on the muscle fibers in the lower part (and still the upper part too).
Keep in mind that you still need to do enough double crunches with enough resistance to actually grow and strengthen your abs.
One potential downside of double crunches is that you can use the momentum of your legs instead of your abs.
If you are not sure whether this is the case for you, you can start with reverse crunches to get a better feel of what engaging your lower abs feels like.
How to do a double crunch
Doing double crunches on a yoga mat or another soft surface will be a lot more comfortable for your lower back. That being said, take the following steps to do the exercise:
- Lie down on your back with your legs slightly less than stretched and next to each other. Hold your arms against your chest.
- Slowly move your knees and hips toward your chest. At the same time, raise your shoulders as far as comfortable in a controlled motion.
- Return your body parts to starting position in a controlled motion.
You want to make sure you don’t swing your legs too much during double crunches. This would reduce how much your abs have to work which is not a good thing.
To avoid this, you can also consider pointing your upper legs vertically throughout the entire exercise. This makes it easier to work your lower abs with the double crunch exercise.
Double crunches muscles worked
The main muscles worked in double crunches are your abs. More specifically, both the muscle fibers in the lower and upper parts.
The main difference with regular crunches is this extra lower ab muscle engagement.
Besides that, your hip flexor muscles have to work to a certain extent to raise your front thighs toward your upper body.
Keep in mind that you still need the right crunch sets and reps with enough resistance to achieve certain training goals.
For more advanced lifters, this could mean doing doubles crunches with weights to see optimal progress.
This can mean wearing ankle weights or clamping a weight between your legs and/or holding some form of weight against your chest.
Benefits of double crunches
It is true that double crunches add some lower ab engagement. However, their more general positive effects are still similar to the benefits of regular crunches.
Some of the most important ones are:
- Stronger muscles: If you approach double crunches the right way they can help you grow and strengthen your abs.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Strengthening core muscles like your abs with double crunches can help you reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2). You do need to know that some people will find double crunches uncomfortable on their spines.
- No equipment or location required: You only need your body and a spot to lie down to be able to do double crunches. This makes it budget-friendly and helps you avoid spending time on going to the gym.
- Makes your six-pack more visible: Growing your abs can make your six-pack more visible. You will likely find this an aesthetic benefit of crunches.
Double crunches can be a great way to get the benefits above. Especially if you like the extra lower ab engagement.
Double crunch alternatives
At the same time, you don’t need to stick to double crunches to get the benefits of core training. Some examples of double crunch alternatives are:
- Suitcase crunches
- Reverse crunches
- Regular crunches
- Hollow body holds
- Hanging knee raises
- Ab wheel roll-outs
What parts of your abs you want to work and in what ways will influence what double crunch alternatives are the right choices for you.
What equipment you have available matters too.
Are double crunches a good exercise?
Double crunches can be a good exercise for working your abs. Especially if you want to work the muscle fibers in the lower part more than in the regular crunch.
Keep in mind that you still need to implement a good exercise routine to actually see certain results like muscle growth and strength progress from doing double crunches.
For more advanced individuals, this could mean using some type of crunch exercise equipment to work their abs harder.
That being said, it is also worth mentioning that you don’t necessarily have to stick to double crunches to see great results.
If you like doing other ab exercises and/or don’t want to work your lower abs, there are plenty of other good alternatives to double crunches.
Are double crunches effective?
Yes, double crunches are effective for working your ab muscles. More specifically, both the upper and lower parts.
What is a double crunch?
A double crunch is a combination of regular and reverse crunches. In simpler words, you both move your shoulders toward your hips and your hips toward your shoulders.