I thought crunches were boring until I did 50 straddle crunches every day for a week — here's what happened

a photo of a woman entering a crunch
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Although straddle crunches sound a bit odd or like an unnecessary position you need to be getting your body into in the name of exercise, they help to spice up a standard crunch and offer up a solid core workout in return. 

That's why I took on the challenge to ditch my usual ab exercises and complete 50 straddle crunches every day for a week instead. I love it when I only need to roll out my favorite yoga mat to complete a core workout, so I was excited to get started.

I now just had to see how my core muscles would fare up to the challenge. Here’s what happened… 

How to do a straddle crunch 

Lie on your back on a mat or a comfortable surface. Extend your legs straight out and open them into a wide straddle position, forming a V shape. Extend your hands straight above your head. Activate your core muscles by drawing your navel toward your spine.

Lift your upper body off the ground by contracting your abdominal muscles. Exhale as you crunch up. At the top of the movement, when your shoulder blades are off the ground, hold for a moment and squeeze your core. Then, lower your back to the floor in a controlled manner.

I thought crunches were boring until I did 50 straddle crunches every day for a week — here's what happened

Here's everything I learned after doing 50 straddle crunches every day for a week. 

I could feel it in my hips

I’m a runner, and I like to think I take good care of my hip flexors in order to strengthen my stride, improve my stability, and avoid injury. That’s why I favor exercises like kettlebell hip marches. But it was also convenient to work my core and feel the stretch of the straddle crunches in my hips. 

Though you don’t need to be a runner to need to build strong and mobile hip flexors. The hip flexors are a group of muscles located at the front of the hip. They are responsible for flexing the hip joint and lifting the thigh toward the abdomen. In the straddle crunch, extending the legs straight out and reaching through the heels engages the hip flexors, requiring them to work as you lift and lower your legs. 

It was great for the ab muscles

I’m not fussed about having a set of washboard abs, so this isn’t why I practice exercises like the straddle crunch. But I do exercise my ab and core muscles because they contribute to my everyday tasks and sport performance.

So I was pretty happy to really feel the effect of this simple floor based movement in my six-pack muscles and obliques. Straddle crunches paired with a few other core exercises would make a great abs-blasting routine for those looking to build muscle and definition in this area of your body.

But remember that it's important to be realistic that developing visible abs muscles requires effective exercise, but also a combination of proper nutrition, overall fat loss, and genetics. 

It’s more difficult than a standard crunch

I noticed, while moving through the many straddle crunches of this week, that the straddle position adds complexity, requiring more coordination and muscle activation, leading to a more challenging workout.

It requires a greater range of motion and you must extend your legs straight out and widen them, increasing the range of motion compared to a standard crunch. This extended range of motion engages the abdominal muscles more intensely throughout the exercise.

Think you might like straddle crunches? They're free, don't need any equipment, and can be an effective way to train wherever you are.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.