There are many ways to work your core muscles. Find out how to do triangle crunches, what their benefits are, and whether they are a good idea.
Triangle crunches are a crunch exercise variation where you start sitting sideways on one knee and one arm with the upper leg stretched and your highest hand against the side of your head.
To do the exercise you then move your upper hip and upper shoulder towards each other.
The result of this is that triangle crunches are mainly a light core (ab and oblique) exercise that also engages your glutes to a small extent. Additionally, you get some balance and coordination training.
A downside of triangle crunches is that it is hard to make them more challenging and that they are not that challenging on their own.
If you have somewhat strong core muscles, triangle crunches will likely not be a great choice to see muscle growth or strength progress.
Even if this is not the case, there are typically more effective exercise options no matter what your training goal is.
How to do a triangle crunch
Having a yoga mat available makes triangle crunches more comfortable to do. That aside, take the following steps to do this exercise:
- Sit down sideways while leaning on one slightly less than stretched arm and knee. Stretch your upper leg in the air and put your upper hand against the side of your head. Keep your body more or less straight for now.
- Slowly move the upper shoulder towards the upper hip. You can do this both on the side or in front of you depending on what muscles you want to focus on. Move your head along with your shoulders while keeping your neck in a straight position.
- Return your body to starting position in a controlled motion.
- Repeat the same number of repetitions on the other side.
Moving slowly in triangle crunches tends to offer the best results.
That aside, let your neck and head follow your upper body. Make sure you don’t pull your head with the upper arm.
To focus more on your ab muscles, move your shoulder towards where you are looking. For working your oblique muscles more you would move your hips towards your shoulders sideways.
In theory, you could hold some type of weight against your chest or wear a pair of ankle weights to make the exercise more challenging.
In practice, this will be inconvenient and not that much more effective.
Triangle crunches muscles worked
Triangle crunches mainly work core muscles like your abs and obliques.
As briefly mentioned, whether you focus more on your abs or obliques (or both) depends on exactly how you do the exercise.
Additionally, the outer thigh muscles of your upper leg have to work to a certain extent.
One important thing to know is that just doing resistance training exercises like triangle crunches is not enough. You also need to challenge your muscles with enough pressure and movements.
How many crunches you should do with what weight depends on your training goals.
That being said, it will typically be hard to get in these ranges with bodyweight triangle crunches since they are not that hard on your core muscles either.
On top of that, adding resistance to triangle crunches in an effective way is hard to do.
In short, triangle crunches do work a few muscles but typically not in a great way for muscle-related fitness goals.
Triangle crunch benefits
Triangle crunches are not that great but you can say they offer more benefits than doing nothing.
While the stance is different, the points below will be very similar to the benefits of regular crunches.
That being said, here are a few examples of positive results you can expect from the triangle variation:
- Better muscle endurance: Triangle crunches will likely not be hard enough to cause muscle growth but engaging your muscles can still improve endurance.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Improving core muscle endurance with something like triangle crunches can reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2). If you already have this issue, you want to be very careful with triangle crunches.
- No equipment or location required: A yoga mat can make things more comfortable but you could do triangle crunches basically anywhere. This can save you time and money.
Again, triangle crunches are definitely not unique in these benefits.
At the same time, it can still be useful to know that even exercises like this can be helpful.
Triangle crunch alternatives
From everything above, you may wonder what movements would be smarter additions to your exercise routine. Some examples of triangle crunch alternatives include:
- Side crunches
- Ab wheel V-rolls
- Side bends
- Regular crunches
- (Sideways) leg raises on the captain’s chair
- Bicycle crunches
To choose between these triangle crunch alternatives you want to think about your training goals, think about what equipment options you can get your hands on, and try a few of them to see what you like more.
Are triangle crunches a good exercise?
Triangle crunches can offer small improvements in core muscle (abs and obliques) endurance, balance, and coordination.
That being said, it is fair to say that triangle crunches are generally not a great exercise.
The main reason for this is that they are not that challenging for the main muscles you work. This is necessary to be able to see results.
Even if you are a core training beginner that could see some results from triangle crunches, many of the alternatives will be more effective for this.
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What do triangle crunches do?
Triangle crunches give your abs and obliques a light workout. This will mainly improve muscle endurance in these areas.