October 5, 2021

Crunches vs. Sit-Ups: Which Are Better for Your Routine?

Crunches, Sit-ups are a staple exercise that almost everyone who has ever exercised has done. These are easy, basic workout moves that only require your body and some floor space. These moves can be safely done by anyone of any fitness level and can help to strengthen and shape your abs. Which one is better?

We examined the benefits of crunches and sit-ups, and primarily focused on the muscles that do them. Also, we looked at how effective they can be as part of a fitness program. Two certified personal trainers were able to give their professional opinions and help us decide whether crunches or sit-ups are better for our abs. Here’s everything you need about these two abs exercises.


  • Torra Wolf, a WeStrive app trainer and co-owner Mind Body Burn, is Torra Wolf.
  • Ray Cook is a WeStrive app trainer and the owner Body Revolution PNW.

What Are Sit-Ups?

While you may already be familiar with a sit-up, it is important to do the entire move from start to finish in order to make it count as a complete sit-up. Torra Wolf, Trainer, says that “sit ups are the full range motion. You lie down on your back, with your hands behind your head and your arms extended. Then, lift your upper body towards your legs by using your core. Ray Cook points out that sit-ups are a great abdominal exercise to use when you’re first starting to train to strengthen and define the rectus abdominis muscles, or the six-pack. He explains that the basic movement involves the exerciser lying down on their back, raising the torso towards the knees and then returning to the ground.

Muscles Targeted During Sit-Ups

Although it might seem that sit-ups target your abs only, they also target the bulk muscles in your core. Wolf explains that sitting-ups target your rectus, obliques and transverse abdominis. She also said that when you raise your entire torso off of the ground, your hip and neck flexors contract as well. Cook says that sitting-ups also use your hip flexors. This is an important muscle group that strength training often overlooks.

What Are Crunches?

Crunches, unlike sit-ups which require you to be fully seated on your stomach and your chest off the ground while lying on your back, have a much more limited range of motion. Crunches are more complex than sit-ups which have few variations.

Wolf suggests that we “lie flat on the ground with our legs bent” in order to do a crunch. Wolf continues by advising that you should “lay flat on the floor with your legs bent.” From this position, you can squeeze your abdominal muscles until your shoulders are slightly higher than the ground. Properly, your lower back and chest should not be moved. You can choose to place your hands behind your neck to support your neck or to reach out straight ahead.

Cook says that crunches are well-known for their ability to isolate the core and provide a great burn. You can keep your core contracted by the slight back-and-forth movement. It can tighten the core muscles and strengthen abdominal muscles without any breaks.

Muscles Targeted During Crunches

Crunches are a light, short motion that is abs-focused. They work your rectus abdominalis as well as your transverse abdominis and obliques to a lesser degree. Crunches are not like sit-ups.


It may appear that crunches and sit-ups are attractive, even if they don’t have any benefits. We found out that this is not the case. According to our trainers, crunches are actually more effective than sit-ups.

Sit-ups are not good for your spine because they involve more motion in your back. Wolf explains that crunches cause less strain on your spine and target the abdominal muscles. Studies have shown that sit-ups are more harmful to the spine than sit-ups due to excessive strain and pressure. Crunches may still curtail the spine but they don’t exert as much pressure than lifting the entire torso off of the ground. Cook says that sit-ups can have more negative effects on the lower back and rely on the hip flexor muscle groups during execution. Crunches don’t require the help of an anchor or any other person to be done properly.

Crunches may be a better option than sit-ups for your workout, because they are more effective for your abs. Wolf explains that it is quite common for sit-ups, Wolf says, to contract other muscles such as the hip and neck flexibilityors. More muscles will work together when there is a full range. Crunches are the best choice to isolate abdominal muscles.

For beginners learning how to use their core muscles properly, crunches work better than traditional exercises. Wolf states that “a common error in abdominal exercises is pushing your abs forward as you crunch.” My clients learn to bring their belly button in towards their spine. This helps draw in their core, activate their muscles, and I go back to basics with them. Cook emphasizes that no one exercise is the best or only way to get a six pack. Cook says that fostering a sustainable lifestyle and developing a healthy relationship to fitness and mindful eating will reap more benefits than any single movement.

Benefits of Crunches-sit-ups

  • Simplicity: Wolf states that this move is a great one to learn how to activate your abs. It is simple
  • Increase abs strength
  • May enhance abs muscle definition
  • Sitting ups can cause strain to your spine, but this is not the case.
  • Strengthen your whole core
  • For everyday tasks like getting out of bed, strengthen your muscles
  • May help increase abs definition
  • If you do many of these exercises, increase your endurance.

The Final Takeaway for Crunches-sit-ups

Crunches and sit-ups are basic, but simple exercises. Both work your abs. However, sit-ups will also target your hip flexors. Crunches require a more restricted range of motion while sit-ups can be done with a greater range of motion.

Trainers agree that crunches are better than sit-ups when it comes to choosing which exercise is best. Because sit-ups can cause injury to your back, hip flexors and neck, and crunches will isolate your abs better. Crunches are also more likely to yield better results because of their isolation. Crunches work better for beginners learning how to activate their core. For more experienced exercisers, crunches will yield greater rewards because they are more focused and isolation. Which exercise should you include in your workout routine? Crunches. They are safer for your back, and provide better results.