The decline sit-up commonly referred to as the decline crunches, is a more complex variation of the classic sit-up for the abdominals. It is, therefore, an exercise reserved for those with a reasonably solid abdominal belt and one of the best exercises for developing an impressive six-pack.
The “decline crunches” may be an old-school exercise, but make no mistake, it’s also one of the most effective. Why is it different from standard crunch? Because it requires a more excellent range of motion, which stretches the abdominals and creates greater tension for the practitioner. These are essential building blocks for building muscle and strength.
Execution of the decline crunches
- Adjust the declination of the bench to around 35 degrees (the more the bench is declined, the greater the difficulty).
- Block the legs at the top of the bench (the knees should form a 90-degree angle).
- Lie down, ensuring your back is flat against the backrest (your head is, therefore, down).
- Cross your hands over your chest, place them on either side of your head at the temples, and angle your elbows slightly inward. If you place your hands behind your head, be careful not to hold them or force them at the risk of pulling on the neck.
This is your starting position for the decline crunches.
Execution of the movement
- Contract the lower abdominals to take the shoulders off the bench. To do this, roll up your bust and round your back.
- Push as hard as possible until your upper body is lifted about 10 centimeters while keeping your lower back in contact with the bench.
- At the top of the movement, contract the abdominals for a second. Then lower the bust slowly and control the movement to the starting position.
Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
- Exhale during the rising phase.
- Inhale during the descent phase.
Breathing while the abdominals are contracted, and the stomach tucked in can be challenging: block your breathing from inhaling in the starting position and exhaling at the end of the ascent.
Risks and mistakes to avoid
- Adjust the bench well! Prefer a setting of 35 degrees and avoid exceeding 45 degrees; beyond that, there is a significant risk of blood flow to the brain and a rise in blood pressure.
- Be careful not to arch your back; keep your chest straight! The lower back should be slightly rounded, and the belly tucked in.
- Do not force your hands to hold your head: you risk pulling on your neck and injuring your neck!
- Control your movement: the abdominals must remain contracted throughout the decline crunch!
- Raise the bust thanks to the contraction of the abdominals! Refrain from cheating by overdoing the rise with the shoulders.
Variations and related exercises
- For beginners: cross your arms across your chest or stretch them out in front of you to facilitate the decline crunches. Prefer a relatively low declination of the bench (10 to 15 degrees) and then increase it as you progress.
- For the confirmed: use a ballast (you can press a weight against the chest by crossing your arms). Concentrate on the execution of the movement: keep the abdominals contracted throughout the decline crunch, slow down the speed of execution, and wait longer at the point of contraction.
- Oblique crunch.
- Pulley crunch.
- You can set the bench to any inclined angle as long as you can perform your crunches with good technique. If the angle you use is too taxing, adjust the bench to a slightly less steep angle.
- Never use your hands to pull on the head. Not only is this bad for your neck, but it won’t allow you to optimize the engagement of your abdominal muscles.
- Avoid lying on the bench during each rep to maintain optimal tension on the target muscles.