Core,  Exercises

Move of the Week: Butterfly Crunch

I recently came across the butterfly crunch while doing a Fitness Blender 10 Minute Abs workout (see minute 1:53-2:50).  I’ve done a bazillion of crunches over the years and experimented with various styles and difficulties, but this one had eluded me.  So, I decided to make this my workout move of the week.  As you know, I’m just getting started with this blog, so I am hoping to post a new exercise move (new to me, at least) on roughly a weekly basis to help you shake up your normal routine.  

So, the butterfly crunch.  As with many crunches, you can do it in a number of different ways.  But the basic idea is to lay down as if you are going to do a normal crunch, but instead put the soles of your feet together with your knees splayed out (like butterfly wings),  You then crunch your upper body towards your feet.  It’s that simple.   

The butterfly crunch is worth adding to your abdominal exercise repertoire.  It nicely works both the upper and the lower part of the rectus abdominis, which is the center sheath of muscles that can give you that “six pack” look.  And, working the rectus abdominis is good for digestion — in other words, it might help you poop! 

As with many exercises, the butterfly crunch has variations that make it harder or easier.  I’ll start with the easier version and move to some harder variations.  To make this exercise comfortable, perform it on a thicker mat or carpet.   

Basic Butterfly Crunch 

 The easiest way to do a butterfly crunch is as follows: 

  • Lie on your back 
  • Put the soles of your feet together (closer to your butt is harder; further away is easier) 
  • Allow your knees to drop open as is comfortable 
  • Cross your hands across your chest.  You can also put them behind your head as with a traditional crunch or straightened in front of you, palms together 
  • Breathe out while lifting your chest and shoulders off the floor and towards your knees 

If you’re a beginner, do 1-2 sets of 8-10 repetitions, 2-3 days a week. 

For more advanced exercisers, you can do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions, depending on your level of fitness. 

In case you can’t visualize it, Men’s Health has a good photo demonstration and Fitness Magazine has a video.   

More Advanced Versions of the Butterfly Crunch   

Advanced butterfly crunches typically involve moving the lower body as well as the upper body.  Be careful about moving to the advanced version if you have back issues, though.  If your abdominals aren’t yet strong enough, you run the risk of stressing your back.  Not good.       

Pop Sugar Fitness has a decent demonstration of a more advanced butterfly crunch that includes a reverse crunch. 

For an even harder version, check out Jeremy Reid Fitness’s version: 

Butterfly Crunches – Exercise Demo 

In short, butterfly crunches are a good way to mix up your abdominal routine and work that center sheath of ab muscles.   Give them a try!   

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