The alternating crunch up is a great exercise that helps to strengthen and tone your core, which includes the abdominal and oblique muscles, as well as the muscles of the lower back. Be sure that you can comfortably perform the basic form of this exercise before attempting to make it more challenging. Failing to do so can result in major injury.
About the Alternating Crunch Up
Before you perform the alternating crunch up, it is important to understand what muscle groups are worked in this exercise. The alternating crunch up helps to strengthen, tone and support the abdominal and oblique muscles, as well as those of the lower back. Strengthening these muscles may not only give you a more attractive look, but can also help in the treatment and prevention of lower back pain, and other chronic conditions.
Positioning Your Body for the Alternating Crunch Up
Before actually doing an alternating crunch up, you must position your body properly. Start by placing a yoga or exercise mat down on the floor. Carefully lay down on the mat flat on your back with your head and spine firmly planted on the ground. Bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor. Carefully lift your arms off the mat, and lace your fingers together. Place them at the junction of your head and neck, supporting this area. Look directly up at the sky.
Performing the Alternating Crunch Up
Now that you are positioned properly, you can start to perform the alternating crunch up. Start by taking a few deep breaths. As you exhale your breath use the abdominal and oblique muscles to lift your back off the ground. As you lift your chest towards the sky, bring your left elbow towards your right knee. This will cause your chest to cross over your torso at a diagonal angle. As you inhale your breath, slowly lower your upper body back down to the ground. Do the maneuver again, but this time bring your right elbow towards your left knee, and lower back down to the ground. Perform at least ten repetitions on each side before taking a short break. Do two sets of ten repetitions on each side in order to achieve optimal results.
Increasing the Intensity of the Alternating Crunch Up
This is a relatively challenging exercise in and of itself that may take time for you to master. As with any exercise, it is essential that you can easily perform the basic exercise before attempting to increase the intensity. Making the exercise more difficult before you are able to master the technique can result in injury as well as in decreased athletic performance. Be sure that you are able to do at least three sets of fifteen repetitions of the alternating crunch up before attempting to increase the intensity. Once you finally are able to make the exercise more challenging, you may want to consider increasing the speed at which the exercise is performed. This forces the muscles to work harder with a shorter recovery time, thereby increasing the intensity of the workout.