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How to Do Reverse Crunches

Published May 31, 2018
KC Clements

Written By: KC Clements, MS

KC holds a Master of Arts in Gender Politics from New York University

<article> <section> <p>When it comes to core exercises that work your abs hard, it doesn’t get much better than crunches. Unlike other core exercises, this isolated movement targets your abdominal muscles specifically. The classic crunch is primarily effective at working your upper abs. If you want a solid core all the way around, you’ll need to incorporate other variations into your routine. Here we’re going to teach you a beginner version of the crunch for working your lower abs: the <i>reverse crunch</i>.</p> <p>For the reverse crunch, you’ll lie on the ground with your knees bent like you would for a regular crunch. Instead of lifting your head and torso, lift your legs up towards your core. This move is not only going to prepare you for more difficult variations down the line, but it’s also going to strengthen your posture. Good posture will help you achieve that coveted look of a lean, toned core.</p> <p>If you’re not quite ready for the reverse crunch when you’re getting started, there’s a few things you can try. First, you can lift one leg at a time rather than both, helping you to stabilize while still building up core strength. As another option, you can lift your legs up and hold them rather than performing the crunch movement. Once you’ve built up some strength, you can start to do the crunch with a reduced range of motion until you’re up to speed.</p> <p>The reverse crunch will prepare you for another intermediate core exercise—<i>the slightly bent leg raise</i>. Lie completely flat on the floor, maintaining a slight bend in your knees. Now lift your legs all the way up until they’re perpendicular with the ground. You’ll feel the burn right away in your lower abs with this challenging movement.</p> <p>Finally, you’ll be ready to take on the <i>straight leg ceiling stomp</i>. Again, starting from a lying position, lift your legs off the floor up towards your core. Instead of stopping when your legs are all the way up, lift your butt and lower back off the floor. Now push your legs up towards the ceiling. This adds tension in your upper abdominal muscles. Squeeze the glutes when you lift off for an added lower body workout. </p> <p>But first, let’s learn how to do the perfect reverse crunch:</p> </section> <section> <header>Instructions:</header> <ol> <li>Lie down on your back with your knees at around a 45 degree angle and your gaze up towards the ceiling. <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jp2"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" width="80%" class="img-fluid" alt="reverse-crunch"> </picture></li> <li>Rotate your arms so that your palms are facing the ceiling and your arms are completely flat on the ground. Lift your head off the ground, careful not to scrunch the neck, eyes still on the ceiling. <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jp2"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" width="75%" class="img-fluid" alt="reverse-crunch"> </picture></li> <li>Squeeze your knees together and lift them up towards your body as far as you can go. Then lower them back down to the starting position. <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jp2"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="reverse-crunch"> </picture></li> <li>Repeat this movement until you’ve reached the desired number of repetitions.</li> </ol> </section> <section> <header>Things to keep in mind:</header> <ul> <li>Your torso should stay in one place throughout the movement. Since it’s the tension between you holding your torso in place while your legs move that is working your abs. Ensure that your torso is stable by tucking your pelvis and pressing your lower back into the ground. There shouldn’t be space between you and the floor. If you can fit your hand underneath yourself, press your lower back down more. <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jp2"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" width="75%" class="img-fluid" alt="reverse-crunch"> </picture></li> <li>If you feel your lower back lifting off the ground during the movement, stop and reset. Reduce the range of motion so that you can perform the exercise while keeping your lower back on the ground.</li> <li>Think about dropping your ribs down towards your hips during the movement. An easy way to make sense of this cue is to get into the proper position then cough. The way your ribs are when you cough is how you want them to be during the movement. If you find you’re losing that tension in your ribs, take a breath and relax for a second, then start back up.</li> <li>Stay tall through the top of your head during the movement. Make sure your head isn’t scrunched up towards your body or dangling down towards the floor. This movement is all about retraining your posture, so maintaining the right position of your head is going to help you reach that goal. <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jp2"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" width="75%" class="img-fluid" alt="reverse-crunch"> </picture></li> </ul> </section> <section> <header>Conclusion</header> <p>The reverse crunch is a great movement for working your core and improving your posture. If you want the greatest benefit from this exercise, you need to do it right. Pay close attention to the form cues we’ve offered here to ensure you get the most out of your reverse crunches.</p> <p>Again, if you’re finding the movement too challenging at first, you’ve got two great options. One is to lift a single leg off of the floor at a time rather than both. This will get you focused on the proper form and will start to build the strength you need to move up to the regular version. Or you can start by holding your legs up in place for a period of time, then introduce a small range of motion until you can complete the full reverse crunch.</p> <p>Once you’ve mastered the reverse crunch, you’ll be ready to do the slightly bent leg raise. You’ll start from the same position, but you’ll keep your legs straight with a slight bend at the knee. Straightening your legs makes this move even harder and more effective than the reverse crunch alone.</p> <p>From there, you can test out the advanced straight leg ceiling stomp—sounds fun, right? It’s the same setup as the slightly bent leg raise. This time keep your legs fully straight while raising them up. Then lift your glutes and hips off of the floor and press up towards the ceiling. This move is tough, which means it’s going to give you an amazing core workout.</p> <p>Like regular crunches, one of the best things about reverse crunches is that you can do them from the comfort of your own home. Try adding in a few sets during your next workout or do a few repetitions between episodes of your favorite binge-worthy Netflix show.</p> <p>If this exercise is too easy, try <a target="_blank" href="">Slightly Bent Leg Raises</a>.</p> </section> </article>

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