Are Sit-ups Or Crunches More Effective?

So you started a new workout, and you may be asking yourself, are sit-ups or crunches more effective? There are many popular exercises for the abs, but the most popular are crunches and sit-ups. When it comes to these two exercises, you don’t get a better workout then crunches and sit-ups. They both work differently to help build your abdominal muscles. When you do each technique, different muscles are engaged. But which one is more effective?

The short answer is that  both help build muscle. However, crunches focus only the abdominal muscles. This intense muscle isolation makes it a popular exercise for those of you working towards a six-pack. Crunches are ideal for strengthening your core, which also includes your obliques and lower back muscles.

But wait, does this mean that you should cut out sit-ups and focus solely on crunches. Not so fast! Let's take a closer look at what each exercise has to offer.

Are Sit-ups Or Crunches More Effective?

Comparing Techniques


Both sit-ups and crunches can be most effective abdominal workouts. Both of the workouts will require you to lie on your back. Crunches are an easier exercise to do if you are a beginner. Sit-ups may require assistance, especially if it’s new to you. You may need someone to hold your feet during a sit-up to get the most benefit from the exercise. Crunches are a lot easier because you don’t require another person to help, the motion is just upwards and moving back to the starting position.

Different Muscles Used

Both sit-ups and crunches work the lower abs as well as the upper abs. During these exercises, the oblique’s are often used as well as they assist the abdominals in their movement. But when it comes to the sit-up you will also be using inner hip muscles, thighs, and even your quads. You will also be using the stabilizer muscle in order to maintain proper posture during the exercise. It takes more muscles to engage a sit-up then it does for a basic crunch.

A lot of people will use both exercises to get the benefits of both. But there are a few differences between the two. Although they may seem like a similar exercise, there are some differences between the two.

The sit-up is typically the exercise that has a larger movement than what is required for a crunch.

The Differences Between The Two

Here are some differences between crunches and sit-ups, that will show which one is better than the other.

Proper Form When Doing Abdominal Exercises

If you are executing proper form when doing sit-ups and crunches, then you are missing all the benefits of the exercise. Plus, you could be prone to injury if you’re not doing it properly.

The Crunch


Using proper technique, you can execute a crunch by lying on your back with your knees bent, and your feet on the ground. The idea is only to lift your head and chest off the ground, crunching your abdominal muscles in the process. Once your abs are engaged, you lower yourself back to the ground. It’s important not to use jerky motions or to pull on your neck. Hands should be placed loosely behind the ears or on your chest.

Below is a great example of how to do a proper crunch:

​The Sit-up


The sit-up is similar to the crunch in the fact that you are lying on your back with your knees bent. With this exercise, however, there are some differences. Hands should be crossed over your chest. To execute a sit-up, you’re going to bring your head and chest up into a full sitting position. When you have reached your knees, you return to the ground and repeat. There should be no jerking motions; it should be one smooth motion.

If you use jerky motions or flex your hips instead of your abs, then you aren’t going to get the real benefits from the exercises. There are usually sit-up machines at most gyms that can help to execute the movement much smoother. There is a benefit to using it because you will have a way to stabilize your feet without the need for a partner.

​Below is a great example of how to properly execute a sit-up:

It’s important to keep in mind that it’s more important that you use proper technique when doing sit-ups and crunches than how many you can execute. If you do the exercise incorrectly, it won’t matter how many of them you did because they won’t be effective.

​Working Towards A Six Pack


It’s hard to achieve the six pack by just doing crunches and sit-ups. It’s not just about doing exercise but also what you eat that helps you achieve a six pack. Increasing your exercise while maintaining a low-calorie diet will help shave off the layer that is usually hiding that six pack.

​So back to the original question, are sit-ups or crunches more effective, we can agree that both will effectively help increase your ab strength. But with sit-ups, there is the downfall that it can place added strain on other parts of your body such as your back and neck. If you already suffer in those areas, then it might not be the best exercise for you. The crunch is definitely easier on the body because there is a smaller range of motion and therefore less strain on the neck and back.

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