Crunch Vs. Plank: Which One Wins?

They are the two most popular core training moves, but do they produce the same results? We put the crunch and the plank to the test.

If you’re keen to find the smartest way to work your abs—and enjoy the increased stability, and lower risk of injury that comes from a strong core—here’s where you’ll find it.

Plank versus crunch

The crunch is a dynamic movement. It’s a spinal flexion—a forward bend of the spine.

The plank is a static hold. An isometric contraction of the muscles of the spine.

What muscles do you work?

Both the crunch and the plank engage the rectus abdominis and the obliques. However, the plank also targets the erector spinae, the glutes, hip flexors, quads and deltoids.

Why we love these moves

Science shows…

In 2013 the Les Mills research team explored which type of abdominal exercise—isolation or integration—provokes the greater muscle activation. This study highlighted:

The verdict: The plank is the winner

While the humble crunch can work wonders for your core, the plank provides optimal results when it comes to aiding sports performance, rehab and general fitness. So, if you really want to maximize the benefits of your core training the increased muscle activation you get with a plank means it’s the way to go.

When to choose crunches over the plank

If you have weak wrists or shoulders choosing to challenge your core with crunches may be the best bet.

Technique tips: what to watch out for

The perfect plank prescription

For more scientifically backed ab training exercises check out the complete ab guide.

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