Small modifications can make a difference in exercises. Find out how to do twisting crunches and why you can consider them.
Twisting crunches are a crunch exercise variation where you put your legs in the air with 90-degree angles in your hips and knees.
After that, you raise one shoulder as far as comfortable to the knee of the other side. You want to do the same number of repetitions on the other side.
Twisting crunches mainly work your obliques and to some extent your abs. If you use enough weight and do enough reps, you can grow and strengthen these muscles.
One thing to note is that pointing your legs in the air makes the movement slightly more comfortable but also makes your range of motion slightly smaller.
Since this is slightly less effective, you preferably want to do oblique crunches which are basically twisting crunches without the legs in the air.
How to do a twisting crunch
Something like a thick exercise mat can make twisting crunches more comfortable. That aside, take the following steps to do the exercise:
- Lie down on your back. Raise and fold your legs so that you have 90-degree angles in your hips and knees. Hold your hands against the side of your head.
- Slowly raise one shoulder as far as comfortable toward the knee on the other side. Keep your neck in line with your body.
- Return your shoulder back to the ground in a controlled motion.
- Complete your set and do the same number of repetitions on the other side.
You want to avoid swinging your shoulders to generate momentum.
Instead, keep your movements slow so that your oblique muscles really have to work hard in twisting crunches.
Muscles worked with twisting crunches
The main muscles worked with twisting crunches are your obliques and to some extent your abs.
Additionally, your hip flexors and quadriceps have to work to a tiny extent to keep your legs in the air.
If you actually want to grow and strengthen your obliques with twisting crunches, you likely have to pay some extra attention to your repetitions, sets, and resistance.
More specifically, for something like muscle growth, you want to do about 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 (and even up to 50) twisting crunches per side with a resistance that makes these ranges very challenging.
People who are more advanced may need to do twisting crunches with weights like a dumbbell, kettlebell, etc. against their chest.
One small downside of twisting crunches is that pointing your legs up likely tilts your hips slightly back and in turn, makes the range of motion for your obliques slightly smaller.
If you don’t have any issues with keeping your feet flat on the ground, this twisting crunch variation is likely recommended.
Twisting crunch benefits
By making it easy to work your obliques in nice amounts, twisting crunches offer a few valuable benefits. A few of these include:
- Stronger muscles: If you approach this exercise right, twisting crunches can help you grow and strengthen your oblique muscles.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Because they help you strengthen your core muscles, twisting crunches can help you reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2). People with issues in this area may want to talk to an expert before doing more twisting crunches.
- No equipment or location required: Even if you need some weight, you should be able to make twisting crunches challenging enough at home. This helps you avoid investing any money in equipment and/or spending time going to specific locations.
- Helps you avoid muscle asymmetries: Twisting crunches work the obliques on one side at a time. This makes it easier to work each side the same way which is helpful for avoiding muscle imbalances.
It is true that twisting crunches are not completely unique in these benefits. At the same time, they are still a good option if you are interested in them.
Twisting crunch alternatives
Twisting crunches can be a good oblique exercise but you may want to know what other options you have.
Some examples of twisting crunch alternatives are:
- Bicycle crunches
- Side bends
- Hanging sideways knee raises
- Ab wheel V-rolls
Exactly what muscles you want to work in what ways will influence your choice between these twisting crunch alternatives.
Are twisting crunches a good exercise?
Twisting crunches can be a good exercise to work your obliques and to some extent your ab muscles.
If you do enough repetitions and potentially use crunch equipment if needed, you can grow and strengthen your obliques with twisting crunches.
One thing to note is that the leg position in twisting crunches makes your muscle range of motion slightly smaller.
Since this is not ideal, you preferably want to keep your feet on the ground instead. At least if you don’t find this too uncomfortable.
Additionally, there are many other great at-home oblique exercises. If you prefer these over twisting crunches, they can be good options too.
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What is a twisting crunch?
A twisting crunch is an exercise where you lie down on your back, point your upper legs vertically, and move one shoulder to the knee of the opposite side. This works your oblique core muscles.
What is the benefit of twisting crunches?
The main benefit of twisting crunches is that you focus more on your obliques. This can be helpful in certain movements and helps you avoid back pain.