Penguin crunches get their name from the fact that they make you look like you are waddling (like a penguin) when you’re doing them.
It is one of the few crunches that goes out of its way to work the oblique muscles, which most other ab exercises tend to ignore.
It is a bodyweight exercise, which means you won’t need anything else to do it other than your body weight, and a mat for extra comfort.
First things first, let’s talk about how to do it properly:
- Lie on your back on the floor/mat.
- Bend your knees and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Bring your feet as far in towards your body as you can.
- Place your arms by your sides.
- Brace your core and lift your torso a few inches off the floor.
- With your right hand, reach out to the toes on your right foot, and then almost immediately, use the left hand to reach the toes on your left leg.
- Keep rocking back and forth, alternating the sides and flexing your obliques as you do so. You only complete one rep once you’ve touched the toes on both legs.
- Repeat as many times as you desire.
WHAT MUSCLES DO PENGUIN CRUNCHES WORK?
The obliques are the primary focus of penguin crunches. By twisting your sides as you reach for your toes alternately, you stretch, strengthen and tone your internal and external oblique muscles.
Aside from your obliques, you rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis also do a small chunk of the work when you tighten your core to help stabilize your body.
BENEFITS OF PENGUIN CRUNCHES
WORK YOUR OBLIQUES
If you are a crunch lover, you probably already know that there aren’t many exercises that focus on the obliques, which is a shame because you need toned obliques to achieve that perfectly toned tummy most people want.
Penguin crunches help tone your tummy to get you those gorgeous, toned abs.
BUILD CORE STRENGTH
As much as their main focus is on your obliques, penguin crunches also work other muscles of your core, albeit to a lesser degree.
This helps build overall core strength which then contributes to spinal and lower back stability.
CAN BE MODIFIED
You can modify penguin crunches by adding a resistance band to the movement to provide more resistance for working your core.
In such a case, you’ll hold the band between your hands and over your head to focus the tension on your core.
As mentioned before, you don’t need much to do penguin crunches. This makes it an ideal exercise for people who are unable to access the gym.
ALTERNATIVES TO PENGUIN CRUNCHES
The oblique twist is perhaps one of the most popular exercises for the oblique muscles.
Like penguin crunches, it involves twisting your body to activate the muscle fibers in the muscles located at the side of your abdomen.
- Sit on the floor/mat with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. You can choose to lift the feet a few inches off the floor to increase the difficulty level.
- Tighten your abs.
- If you are lifting your feet off the floor, make sure your legs are at a 45-degree angle from the floor.
- Twist your torso slowly as you touch the floor on your side every time you twist.
- Whenever you are done twisting on one side, go back to the center and pause for a moment before twisting on the other side.
- Repeat as many times as you desire.
Another way to increase the challenge in this exercise is to make it weighted by doing it with a medicine ball or a dumbbell, in which case you’ll make sure to touch the weight to the ground beside you every time you twist.
This exercise works the whole side of your body, with its primary target being your obliques.
- Start by lying on the floor on your side.
- Stack your feet on top of each other and place the bottom forearm below your shoulder.
- Brace your core and lift your hips until your entire body is in one straight line.
- Hold this position without dropping your hips for at least 30 seconds, and then repeat these steps on the other side.
SIT-UPS TO TWIST
Like penguin crunches, this exercise targets your obliques but it also works the rest of your abdominal muscles.
- Lie on the floor with your back and knees flat, and your knees bent.
- Place both hands behind your head.
- Tighten your core and do a full standard sit-up. At the top position of the sit-up, bring your left elbow toward your right knees and twist your torso to that side.
- Lower your back down to the floor to get back to the starting position.
- Repeat these steps, alternating sides with each rep.
The spiderman is great for your entire core, but the side-crunch portion of them gives your obliques a bit more attention.
You will also get a little upper body workout as a bonus, since you are using your shoulders, back and arms to maintain the plank position.
Here’s how to do it properly;
- Get into a high plank position, with your arms extended and your hands placed directly under your shoulders.
- Engage your core.
- Bring your right knee to your right elbow, by twisting your torso to make a movement that looks a bit like a side crunch.
- Repeat the steps, alternating sides with each rep.
PENGUIN CRUNCHES MISTAKES TO AVOID
WRONG NECK PLACEMENT
When you hold your neck at an odd angle, you’ll likely feel your neck getting sore after a couple of reps.
Try to tuck your chin slightly to help improve your neck position so that you don’t over-flex or overextend it as you perform the movement.
This exercise might just be what you need to get that toned, well-rounded core, with a bonus of a stronger spine and better posture.
You don’t even have to believe this article; try it out today and see it for yourself!