Breathing during a crunch:

Video inspired question.

"Stability Ball Crunch"

Phillip Schlueter

Brent, you didn't address proper breathing for this kind of movement. I say this because I've just now watched the M&F Abs workout system and the breathing technique they say is proper is exactly backwards from what I have leaned and do. They say to inhale and hold your breath while raising exhale on lowering. What do you say?? I really thought for the max contraction you exhale when crunching and inhale for the release. Confused!!

Brent Brookbush

Great question -  Your diaphragm (the muscle most responsible for breathing) is part of your intrinsic core stabilization subsystem.  However, it would provide the most stabilization (via increased intra-abdominal pressure) during inhaling.  This gets a little tricky - the increased pressure may also cause a person to want to stick out their belly.  Abdominal distension is de-activation of the transversus abdominis another key muscle in the intrinsic stabilization subsystem.   So what do we do... Stop making things so complicated for starters.  Draw-in your belly button to ensure engagement of the intrinsic subsystem and breathe comfortably.  Your body will do what is most appropriate, including the holding of one's breath (the valsalva maneuver) during the most strenuous portion of heavy movements.