Plank vs. Crunch: Which is the Best Exercise for Abs & Core?

Scott Herman
Written By: Scott Herman
December 21st, 2017
Updated: March 30th, 2021
Categories: Articles Training
Tags: Video
Which exercise is the better abdominal builder? BSN athlete Scott Herman breaks down the differences between the plank and the floor abdominal crunch.

Earlier this month, BSN athlete Scott Herman stopped by the M&S gym to share some of his training knowledge with us and our loyal M&S fans.

Together, we pitted several similar exercises against each other to determine which exercise is best for building its target muscle group.

This video will be the first part of our “Vs” series. In this episode, Scott breaks down the floor crunch and the plank to determine which exercise is the better core builder.

Scott begins by discussing what each exercise accomplishes before giving us his final answer.

Check it out and please be sure to leave your comments and questions in the comments section below!

The Plank

When it comes to the plank, there isn’t much movement that takes place. It is much more of a core stability exercise. In fact, when you perform a plank, the whole purpose of the exercise is to strengthen the core without having to go into spinal flexion or spinal extension.

But, the plank is much more than simply laying on your knees and elbows and holding that position for as long as you can. The plank is meant to create tension throughout your entire core, as well as your legs and upper body, and to keep that tension by flexing and squeezing all of your muscles as hard as you can while holding the position for as long as you can.

While you’re tensing your core, you should almost feel like you’re pulling your knees into your toes for the entire movement.

The plank has a lot of real world application including strengthening the spine so you are better able to maintain a neutral spine throughout everyday life. Performing planks regularly also has a positive carry over into putting up bigger numbers on your compound exercises: Bench, squat, and deadlift.

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The Floor Crunch

Now, when you look at the floor crunch and its variations, the whole purpose of this exercise is to go into spinal flexion and spinal extension to actually work and contract the abs to break down muscle tissue for regrowth.

You cannot break down muscle tissue, regardless of what exercise you’re doing, unless there is an extension and flexion of that muscle.

Therefore, if your goal is to create a hypertrophic response in your abdominals, the floor crunch is a great exercise to do just that.

Plank Vs Crunch: Which Should You Be Doing?

So, which exercise should you be doing to build your ab muscles? It depends on your goals.

If your goal is to build more stability, then you’ll find performing planks to be more beneficial. However, if your goal is to build a blockier set of abs, then performing crunch variations may be more beneficial for you to do.

That’s not to say you can’t include both exercises into your current workout routines.

For Scott, he likes to incorporate both exercises into his own routine by performing crunches first to try to work and break down his rectus abdominis. Then, he finishes his workout by performing planks.

Scott sets up his own programs like this for a couple of different reasons. If he does the floor crunches first, he pre-exhausts his rectus abdominis which will make the plank a bit more intense.

Scott finds planks to be a fairly easy exercise and can perform them for up to 5 minutes if his muscles are relatively fresh. But, if he goes into a plank after having pre-exhausted his abs via floor crunches, it’ll make that 5 minutes more intense and he may even have to reduce the amount of time he performs planks.

Thus, performing ab crunches first in your program followed by the plank is a good way to get the most out of your time in the gym while also building a strong and aesthetic set of abs.