If you look at the average ab-focused workout routine, chances are you’ll find three categories of movement: lying, planking, and hanging exercises. And don’t get us wrong, these are must-have core training positions. But a just as beneficial core training element commonly missing from most midriff workouts are techniques used on the feet. These variants are especially beneficial for active individuals involved in sport, and daily physical activities that require a strong and resilient body. Additionally, standing on two legs is how we humans move and do most things in nature. So today we’ll use the band standing crunch to illustrate why standing ab exercises need a place in your functional sick-pack program.
In this guide, you’ll learn the true way to do an ab crunch, benefits of training on your feet, common mistakes to avoid, and variations that work best.
Muscles Worked During Band Standing Crunch
You should really only be focusing on one muscle in this movement, the rectus abdominis. But the obliques can’t help but get some of that action too! Learn about these muscles below.
Crunches most closely mimic the natural motion of our rectus abdominis muscles, which we also call the abdominals or abs. Rectus abdominis are are two long, parallel sheets of muscle in the center of your stomach, between the lower chest and pelvis. Hence they can curl the trunk from both ends, aka a crunching movement.
Draw a line from the abdominals to either side of your belly and you’ll find the oblique muscles. Their unique fiber positioning is what allows them to twist our bodies, and bend it side to side. The obliques share the visual spotlight with the abdominals, especially when body fat is low enough to expose them.
In a forward crunch, the obliques have a lesser role than rectus abdominis. But you can easily modify the exercise and shift the focus to your obliques.
How To Do Band Standing Crunches
Before you attempt band standing crunches make sure that you have something to safely anchor your resistance band to. A quality door anchor, pull-up bar, power rack, or sturdy overhead bars are great options for setting up and training.
Below you’ll find a video tutorial demonstrating proper band setup using a door anchor. Plus we provided written step by step instructions explaining the band standing crunch technique.
- Attach the band to your anchor point several inches above your head.
- If using a door, place your back and butt against it and the wall, so that you’re standing directly under the band. Scoot your feet slightly forward for balance and stability.
- Keep your feet about hip width apart, and bend your knees slightly.
- Grab the band in both hands roughly just above your head so that there’s tension in the band.
- Now engage your abs, then round your spine and curl your shoulders down toward your stomach. Squeeze and contract your core.
- Raise back up but not totally upright, then repeat this sequence of movement for desired number of repetitions.
Here’s a 4-minute video tutorial, or you can try the movement using written instructions, and reading our tips, and common mistakes to avoid.
- If using a door, always anchor your band on the side that closes shut so as you pull there’s no chance of it opening on you. However, we recommend locking the door as an extra safety precaution.
- Grab the band high enough so that it has tension before the movement even begins. This way the core muscles are always being challenged.
- You can be creative in how you anchor your band, even using a tree branch, as long as the bands as long as you can ensure symmetrical training.
In This Exercise:
- Target muscle groups: Rectus abdominis
- Type: Function, hypertrophy
- Mechanics: Isolation
- Equipment: Resistance band and anchor point
- Difficulty: Beginner
- Sets and reps: 2-4 x 10-20
Benefits of Band Standing Crunches
Band standing crunches are definitely the ab workout you’ve been missing from your home workouts. Here’s why…
If it weren’t for the hope of building stronger, more muscular abs that look like the bottom of an egg crate, we wouldn’t bother. Visible abs can hold their own even when other muscles aren’t as impressive. They are just that important from a visual perspective.
It’s always nice to have options, and sometimes when we introduce new movements, we end up liking them better than some exercises in our current rotation.
Seldom do we get on our feet to train our abdominals, especially when we workout at home. And this has some big benefits in itself which we’ll explain next.
Train standing on your feet
If you’re an athlete especially, then you should learn how to engage all of your major muscles while standing on both feet. How come? Well, for example, in a band standing ab crunch, you’re teaching the body to work together to perform a function of the muscle you’re trying to strengthen.
In this case it’s curling and activating the abdominal trunk muscles, which is quite common in sports activities. Like tackling in football or rugby where you ball up force in your core to absorb impact, and deliver explosive movement.
Common Mistakes During Band Standing Crunches
You don’t want to be careless when training the muscles in your core. One wrong move or too much resistance can sideline you with pain. Here are mistakes you shouldn’t make when attempting band standing crunches.
Crunching with a straight back
If you read the muscles worked section at the beginning of this guide, you’d know the basic function of your abdominals. That is, to curl the rectus abdominis at both ends of the trunk, not to flex or create a hinge movement at the hips.
Therefore, we want to flex the spine and round the back instead, to achieve the best possible abdominal contraction. You can see a demonstration of proper back position at the 2:08 timestamp in the primary video example used under the “How To Do Band Standing Crunches” section in this guide.
Using maximal loads
Crunches are not a max strength building exercise, but rather a core building isolation movement that focuses on the contraction against a reasonably challenging load. Worry about your technique first, and the weight will follow as you get stronger. Aim for 12-20 good, effort giving reps, then increase the resistance when the top end of this range is no longer challenging. Using too much weight can strain your lower back, and your ab muscles so be careful and train to your abilities.
Variations and Alternatives of Band Standing Crunches
You can effectively replicate many common ab crunch variations with a training band. Here are your best options.
Band lying ab crunches
If you don’t have weights to add more load to your abs, you can also use a band if you can safely anchor it to an object low to the ground.
- Anchor your band low to the ground at the bottom of a fixed, and sturdy object like a training rack, or anything that will safely support the movement.
- Lie on the ground with your knees propped up and feet flat on the floor.
- Reach back behind your head and grab the band in both hands then pull it forward over your face while keeping the elbows slightly bent. There should be tension, and no slack in the band before you start crunching.
- Without moving your arms, squeeze your abs then lift your shoulders off the ground and curl your upper body toward your feet.
- Slowly lower yourself back to the floor, and repeat for the optimal number of repetitions.
- Press your hands together for better arm stability.
- You don’t want your arms to be behind your head when crunching as it will affect your range of motion.
- Avoid moving your arms during the movement as this will shift focus to other body groups like the latissimus dorsi back muscle.
Band kneeling ab crunch
The poor man’s kneeling ab crunch, and only difference between the standing crunch is that you’re kneeled down on both knees facing toward or away from your anchor point. You’ll need a mat or something soft under your knees for comfort.
You can achieve a greater abdominal stretch in this position by moving your knees back, farther away from where the band is anchored.
Band standing oblique crunches
Leave your band standing crunch variation setup up right there, and swing the rope around to your side to train the rotational core muscles. Instead of crunching forward, you’ll create lateral or side trunk flexion to activate the obliques, and it’s a great alternative to lying side crunches, and dumbbell standing oblique crunches.
Use this cable side crunch guide to replicate the overhead variation with a resistance band.
If you have access to a cable machine then it’s better than the band variation overall. That’s why we call the band version a poor man’s cable crunch. Cable machines have numbered weight stacks so you can change the resistance with an easy swap of a metal pin.
With bands, there’s a little bit of a guessing game. Like forgetting where you held the band during your last workout, which affects the resistance.
Also check out: How to do cable crunches the right way!
Basic floor crunch
There’s been controversy surrounding the effectiveness of classic lying bodyweight ab crunches. Like are they too old-school, basic, and non-challenging? Well, they could be… However, most experts would agree that crunches and variations are still an effective way to train the abs. In fact, you almost have to do crunches if programming an ab routine because it’s the best way to contract the rectus abdominis muscles.
But once you surpass a certain number of reps, it’s time to implement progressive training methods to keep making gains. Some example are really slowing your rep speed, holding weights to add more resistance, or using the weight of your legs to perform reverse crunches. All are perfect strategies to continue seeing progress.
How many sets and reps are most effective for band standing crunches?
We recommend following the general recommendation of 2-4 sets x 10-25 reps. Alternate between moderate and high intensity sets, using a mixture of moderate and heavier training bands for best results. The core muscles can benefit from a variety of training techniques.
What bands should I use?
We recommend the most common handled or looped style resistance bands for most exercises. If you can, opt for a set of bands, that way you have more options for resistance.
Why does my lower back hurt during band standing crunches?
You’re probably using too much resistance, not engaging your core muscles enough, a combination of the two, or pre-existing lower back strain could be a culprit. Lighten the bands, and try not to hyperextend your lower back.
Every serious ab training routine needs at least one exercise like band standing crunches, or its cable equivalent. Although using elastic resistance has the upper hand in a home setting, due to the cost, compactness, and versatility. Most people will need either a door anchor, or standard door pull-up bar to perform this variation, and it’s a very simple, low cost set up with many of the same benefits of gym workouts.
But being on your feet for this version of crunch are where band standing crunches stand out (Pun intended), as it’s a functional, athletic way to train your core muscles. Which play such a crucial role in physical activities, general health and daily living, in general.