Dottie performing butterfly crunches

Move of the week: add butterfly crunches to your ab workout for an advanced core burn

Posted by for Workouts

Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: butterfly crunches. 

There are only a few fundamental exercises we need to perform in order for our workouts to build functional strength. That doesn’t mean our training has to be boring, as small tweaks to movements keeps your exercise interesting while giving the muscles a great burn. 

A great example is the butterfly crunches, which turn the ab-burning dial up on the traditional exercise to keep challenging you and your core. 

What is a butterfly crunch?

A butterfly crunch is performed the same way as a traditional crunch, lifting your shoulders off the floor with the strength of your core. But rather than the legs stabilising you on the floor, they are open wide. 

This exercise is great because:

It’s an extra challenge: without the legs to ground and stabilise you, the core takes on even more of the load in the movement. 

It can help ease pain: by strengthening the core muscles that stabilise the spine.

It can be done anywhere: it’s a bodyweight challenge that requires no kit. 

What muscles do butterfly crunches work?

A butterfly crunch targets the core, which includes:

  • Rectus abdominals
  • Transverse abdominals 
  • Obliques 
  • Hip flexors

    How to do butterfly crunches

    1. Lie on your back on a yoga mat and bring the base of your feet together so the heels and toes are touching. Let your knees fall out wide to form the butterfly shape. If you feel tightness in your hips, move the feet further forwards, away from the glutes.
    2. Place your hands on your head, keeping your elbows wide. 
    3. Draw the belly button into your stomach to engage your core as your lift your head, neck and shoulders off the ground into a crunch position. 
    4. Slowly lower back down the starting position. 

    For more exercise tips, sign up to the Strong Women Training Club

    Images: Stylist

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    Chloe Gray

    Chloe Gray is the senior writer for's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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