Which Wins: Side Plank vs. Crunch

Almost every class you take on ClassPass will involve some sort of ab work, but you’ll often try a variety of different types of moves. If you had to pick one exercise, which one would be most effective: a side plank or a basic abdominal crunch?

Abdominal Crunch

Let’s dispel some exercise science fiction first. Doing endless repetitions of abdominal exercises does not reduce abdominal fat. You will increase your strength and endurance, but to see a difference in your midsection, you have to eat healthier and do more. A basic crunch with your feet on the floor and hands beside the ears targets the rectus abdominus and obliques. A study conducted at San Diego State University showed that the two muscle groups were 100 percent active during a crunch, but was ranked at number 11 out of 13 ab exercises for effectiveness. 

Side Plank

An article in Men’s Health magazine says a side plank is an good way to determine how much strength or endurance you have in your core. If you can hold a side plank for at least 60 seconds with good form, you are  on your way to a stronger foundation. The same study from San Diego State University showed that your obliques are active 230 percent of the time compared to 100 percent for the crunch. 

Plank vs crunches

The crunch may still be included in an ab class to teach you how to effectively breathe and engage your abdominal muscles, but doing three side planks for 15 to 60 seconds on each side will help improve your core strength and help you get ready for more strenuous activity.

Robin M. Gillespie is a NASM-certified fitness professional, social media expert and IDEA Inspired Blogger from Philadelphia who loves cashews.