Some folks fully shrink back from direct ab workouts, both out of boredom or as a result of they imagine the massive compound workouts like squats and overhead presses work their abs sufficient. But loads of different lifters make ab coaching a precedence, be it to enhance efficiency or their physique.

When it involves a handsome set of abs, decrease ab improvement is very coveted. Exercises that contain leg motion, equivalent to numerous leg lifts or the straightforward reverse crunch, are generally used to focus on this space. Is it a sound technique? Maybe, as you’ll quickly study.

Credit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

In any case, the reverse crunch is an easy and efficient train to construct and strengthen your abs, enhance backbone stabilization, and grow to be a fitter, extra muscular human being. For many, it’s the primary “leg raising” train realized, so it’s time you know the way to do it correctly and reap its advantages.

How to Do the Reverse Crunch

Even although it’s a beginner-friendly train, it’s important to guarantee correct type if you need maximal effectivity whereas avoiding ache. The reverse crunch is barely extra complicated than a standard crunch as a result of it entails leg motion, torso flexion, in addition to spinal management. Here’s the way to do it proper.

Step 1 — Lie Down in Position

person on floor performing ab crunchCredit: Philip Date / Shutterstock

No want for tools — apart from a fitness center mat if you happen to want some consolation. Simply lie down on the ground. Keep your higher physique fully flat, squeeze your glutes, and tilt your pelvis backwards to push your decrease again into the bottom. This will stop your decrease again from arching at any level throughout the carry.

Place your arms on the ground by your facet, palms down, and use them for steadiness. Bend your legs and set your toes flat on the bottom.

Form tip: If you have got bother preserving your decrease again flat, carry your shoulder blades barely off the bottom. This will enable you create extra pressure in your abs and supply extra management over your backbone and hips. Having an arched again reduces your means to contract your abs.

Step 2 — Bring Your Knees Toward Your Head

person on floor performing reverse crunch exerciseCredit: Philip Date / Shutterstock

Take a breath into your stomach and brace your abs. Tuck your legs in direction of your face till your hips and decrease again carry from the bottom. As your legs transfer, preserve a roughly 90-degree angle at your knees.

No different motion ought to happen in your physique: preserve your legs on the similar angle, brace as a lot as you possibly can, and drive your arms into the bottom to stabilize your self. Go gradual so that you simply don’t threat dropping posture. In the highest place, your hips ought to be off the bottom for max ab recruitment.

Form tip: If you wish to make the train more durable, straighten your legs as you start the motion or after you’ve reached the highest place. This creates an extended lever arm and will increase the problem in your core muscle tissues.

Step 3 — Lower Your Legs With Control

person in gym doing crunch on floorCredit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Lower your legs slowly till your toes contact the bottom and also you’ve returned to the beginning place. Moving at a comparatively slower velocity helps you’re feeling your abs working and eliminates momentum.

To preserve pressure in your core, don’t enable your decrease again to arch as you convey your legs down. Keep your pelvis tilted backwards and your decrease again pushed into the bottom all through all the repetition.

Form tip: If your again begins to arch as your legs transfer, bend your legs extra. Shortening the vary of movement also can assist. Until you have got sufficient total-core management, solely decrease your legs till you’re feeling your again beginning to arch, after which reverse the motion.

Reverse Crunch Mistakes to Avoid

Ab workouts that incorporate leg motion are vulnerable to dangerous type as a result of many individuals lose focus. Even although the reverse crunch might be the only leg raise-type of train, errors are nonetheless frequent.

Arching Your Lower Back

This is a frequent mistake with learners, as a result of many new lifters lack spinal management and core energy. Arching your decrease again will lower ab involvement and shift extra of the workload in direction of the hip flexors.

person on floor doing leg raise exerciseCredit: Elnur / Shutterstock

Is it a nasty factor? Well, if you need better-looking abs, it received’t be as environment friendly. More importantly, this may trigger stress on the decrease again area. If you wish to keep away from ache and potential accidents, goal to attenuate decrease again arching and hip flexor involvement. (1)

Avoid it: Make positive your core is at all times braced and below pressure. When you’re not flexing your trunk, ensure your decrease again is firmly in touch with the bottom. Do the train slowly and with management. Slightly elevate your shoulder blades from the ground to additional have interaction your core, if wanted. 

Using Momentum

It may be tempting to permit momentum to take over as a result of it makes the train simpler, however it can enormously diminish muscle activation. If you begin swinging your legs round, you’ll find yourself utilizing principally your hip flexors in lieu of your abs, and also you threat arching your decrease again throughout the eccentric (descent).

person on floor doing leg raise exerciseCredit: antoniodiaz / Shutterstock

If you’re aiming for muscle progress, that is inefficient as it can additionally scale back time below pressure and also you’ll should carry out many extra repetitions, and spend extra time and general effort, simply to have the identical stimulus as a strict motion. (2) This also can put extra pressure in your hip joints and decrease again, probably leading to ache or accidents.

Avoid it: There is a sure execution velocity at which your physique will lose muscle pressure and optimum bracing. You ought to by no means attain that velocity however, sadly, you solely understand it when you attain it. If you’re unsure, merely use a gradual tempo — two to 3 seconds on the concentric (lifting) and two to 3 seconds for the eccentric (reducing).

Benefits of the Reverse Crunch

The easiest workouts are sometimes essentially the most environment friendly, and the reverse crunch is not any exception. Learn how this carry can enhance your health and supply advantages that different ab workouts lack.

Abdominal Muscle Growth

They say that “abs are made in the kitchen,” however they’re truly made within the fitness center. A balanced weight-reduction plan and a wholesome physique fats will solely reveal them, however if you wish to show a powerful set of abs, it’s important to practice them like every other muscle.

A correctly executed reverse crunch will provide important time below pressure and supply a special stimulus than what your abs are used to if you happen to’ve solely been doing normal crunches or sit-ups. Incorporating the motion for selection will even assist construct extra muscle. (3)

Core Strength

This train will enhance ab energy and enhance your core and bracing skills. The reverse crunch teaches you the way to switch vitality out of your your core to different limbs (your legs, particularly). You additionally learn to brace correctly for max effectivity and energy.

person on floor doing medicine ball ab exerciseCredit: antoniodiaz / Shutterstock

The common precept is just like squatting, the place your core helps you switch the vitality out of your legs by means of your core and into the barbell. The reverse crunch may also help you get higher at compound workouts which require core stability, making you a stronger and extra full lifter.

Spinal Control

The laborious a part of the train is definitely to exert correct ab pressure whereas bracing sufficient to stop your decrease again from arching. Maintaining this sturdy place will train you the way to stabilize your backbone and effectively brace your core. Improved spinal stability and management can scale back your threat of decrease again ache and accidents, and enhance your total-body energy. (4)(5)

Muscles Worked by the Reverse Crunch

The reverse crunch is a trunk flexion train, which implies that it’ll primarily goal the rectus abdominis, however a lot of the core will truly contribute. Ab workouts which incorporate leg motion are stated to emphasise lower-ab improvement. Let’s see if that’s true and what muscle tissues it trains.

Rectus Abdominis

This is the well-known “six pack.” It’s essentially the most seen ab muscle and goes from the pelvis to the sternum. The fundamental perform of the rectus abdominis is to flex the trunk by bringing the ribs and the pelvis nearer collectively.

muscular person doing reverse crunchCredit: Chad Zuber / Shutterstock

Now, right here’s the tough half: It is typically claimed that you would be able to “target” the higher or decrease sections of the muscle. Typically, ab workouts which convey the ribs nearer to the pelvis are thought of “upper ab exercises.” Movements which convey the pelvis nearer to the ribs, just like the reverse crunch, are regarded as “lower ab exercises.”

However, the rectus abdominis continues to be one single muscle (with a number of tendons working throughout it) so it’s at all times absolutely contracted. Is it actually potential to emphasise the decrease separate from the higher? Let’s have a look at the analysis.

One research didn’t discover a important distinction between workouts by way of higher or decrease ab recruitment. (6) But the workouts have been carried out with the lifters’ arms below their decrease again, which could have brought about much less decrease abs involvement by growing the again arch.

Comparatively, some research have discovered a distinction in activation. (7) If the hips are flexed in direction of the ribs whereas the higher physique stays stationary, the decrease abs have been proven to do extra work.

So it appears that evidently recruiting the decrease abs is extremely associated to train choice. You can’t “isolate” the higher or the decrease abs — the rectus abdominis will at all times work as an entire — however some actions can stress both part barely extra. Properly carried out workouts that contract the abdominals by rotating your pelvis nearer to your (stationary) ribcage might emphasize the decrease abs greater than the higher. (8)

Obliques

The inside and exterior obliques are the “side abs” going out of your hip bones up in direction of your ribs. They are considerably recruited when twisting from the waist or bending sideways.

The obliques are additionally barely concerned in flexing the trunk, and so they work closely to stop the physique from bending or twisting. They are recruited, significantly within the high portion of the reverse crunch, to stabilize your decrease physique because it raises barely into the air.

Hip Flexors

The hip flexors are a sequence of muscle tissues liable for bringing the leg up in direction of the physique. These comparatively small however highly effective muscle tissues are concerned within the reverse crunch due to the leg motion. They are significantly activated as your legs are lowered to the bottom and raised from it.

If you fail to carry your pelvis in direction of your torso within the high a part of every repetition, the hip flexors (and never the abdominals) would be the main muscle tissues labored throughout the reverse crunch.

Who Should Do the Reverse Crunch

Ab workouts may be helpful to just about anybody, so it is best to probably embrace some direct ab workouts in your coaching. Here’s when the reverse crunch, particularly, is most useful.

People Who Want to Look Good

If you wish to sport an aesthetic physique, then you should do some direct ab work. One psychology research even revealed that well-developed abdominals are essentially the most fascinating physique half for males, and within the high three for girls. (9)

If you need your higher physique to be pleasing to the attention, then together with reverse crunches as a part of your coaching will go a great distance, particularly when paired with a selected fats loss weight-reduction plan and an general well-muscled physique.

Strength Athletes

Many energy lifts equivalent to squats, deadlifts, or presses require a robust core to assist transferring the heaviest weights potential. The reverse crunch may also help by growing the muscle tissues liable for growing intra-abdominal stress, enhancing spinal management and stability, and growing bracing skills. A stronger core is proven to assist make you stronger as an entire. (10)

Sports Athletes

In the identical style, core energy will enable you develop extra velocity and energy if you happen to’re a common sports activities athlete. (11) We hardly ever consider it, however working, leaping, and throwing all require core energy and total-body coordination. Moreover, the reverse crunch strengthens the hip flexors, which can are closely concerned in working, leaping, and agility.

People with Back Issues

If you’ve skilled again ache, or wish to stop it, strengthening your abs is simply as vital as strengthening your decrease again. The physique wants steadiness so as to carry out optimally. Unfortunately, trendy life typically results in muscular imbalances, poor posture, and an absence of common bodily situation. The reverse crunch may also help you fight these potential decrease again points by enhancing core energy. (12)

How to Program the Reverse Crunch

As a fundamental body weight train, the reverse crunch is sort of simple to program. You also can add some resistance to spice issues up a bit. Adopt these repetition schemes if you need maximal profit, as a substitute of doing numerous low-effort reps.

Unweighted, Moderate to High Reps

This is a standard vary for ab workouts. Three to 4 units of 10 to twenty repetitions with 30 to 60 seconds of relaxation will do the trick, supplied you employ good type. If you possibly can bang out an ultra-high variety of reps, it’s an indicator that you simply’re utilizing improper type otherwise you’re a beast that should add some resistance.

Weighted, Moderate Reps

You can both safe a small weight plate in your ankles and shins or maintain a dumbbell or medication ball between your toes. A load that’s troublesome for three to 4 units of six to 12 repetitions will present an elevated problem to construct energy or stimulate new progress. It’s important to maintain your type the identical or it can defeat the aim of the train.

Reverse Crunch Variations

Perhaps you’ve had sufficient of mendacity on the bottom otherwise you wish to stimulate your abs and hip flexors in a brand new style. Here are some kickass variations that can share the identical advantages because the reverse crunch and focus in your decrease abs.

Hanging Leg Raise

Hang from a pull-up bar, hanging knee elevate station, or Roman chair. To actually recruit your abs and never focus in your hip flexors, you should definitely curl your pelvis up towards your chest on the high of the motion.

This is an environment friendly motion as a result of it could actually simply be scaled down, by bending the legs, or scaled up by aiming to the touch your toes to the bar over your head. Moreover, the hanging model will even “decompress” your backbone, offering snug reduction after an intense pulling exercise or leg day.

V-Up

This is a comparatively superior body weight train, however if you happen to’ve mastered the reverse crunch, this generally is a development as a substitute of including resistance. The v-up is among the strongest actions to enhance core bracing as a result of it requires a excessive degree of belly pressure mixed with leg and arm motion.

The train will train you to switch vitality effectively between your limbs, in addition to present a critical exercise for the abs, hip flexors, and even the serratus — a key muscle for shoulder stability and efficiency.

Lying Leg Raise

This is the reverse crunch’s almost-identical twin brother. It seems related, however delicate variations provide distinctive advantages. The mendacity leg elevate solely entails leg motion with out elevating the pelvis or hips, so it can focus extra on recruiting the hip flexors.

However, so long as you stop any decrease again arching, your abs will get a critical exercise as properly. The general method is easier, making it’s comparatively less complicated than the reverse crunch.

Reverse Crunch Alternatives

What if you wish to practice your abs whereas emphasizing the higher half? Don’t fear, you’re lined with these options.

Crunch

The direct reverse of the reverse crunch. The good ol’ crunch is usually butchered as a result of the vary of movement is so quick, however when carried out appropriately, it may be a improbable ab train.

Because it solely entails higher trunk flexion, this train will torch your higher abs. The fundamental crunch is probably probably the most easy and efficient methods to coach the abs.

Cable Crunch

This train is favored for its simplicity and for a way handy it’s so as to add doubtlessly heavy resistance. The cable crunch is the bread and butter for any lifter who desires to construct a strong core.

The cable crunch is among the greatest methods to develop stronger, greater abs by means of progressive overload. A correctly carried out cable crunch will end in superior higher abs recruitment with little to no hip flexor involvement.

Sit-up

The sit-up is the quintessential ab train present in {many professional} and athletic bodily health exams. It’s extremely environment friendly for constructing, and assessing, whole core energy and improvement.

Like all crunch variations, you possibly can simply add exterior resistance with a weight plate or weighted vest, however many lifters discover the correctly carried out sit-up to be comparatively difficult as a result of lengthy vary of movement.

FAQs

Should I do the reverse crunch in the beginning or on the finish of a exercise?

Both may be legitimate ways. Training abs on the finish of a exercise is the normal strategy to go, and for good purpose. By ending with ab work, your core received’t be as fatigued throughout the session once you wish to be recent for heavier workouts, like squats.

But if you happen to’re somebody that loathes coaching abs, doing them first will be sure that you don’t skip them since you’re “too tired” after an exhausting exercise. You in all probability received’t be as sturdy throughout the first few  classes, however you’ll probably adapt and profit within the long-run.

Will the reverse crunch shred my abs?

Unfortunately, no. This train will strengthen your abs and stimulate muscle progress, to allow them to look higher, however you have got to have the ability to see them first. The solely factor that can reveal your abs is to realize a low sufficient physique fats proportion.

For that, you should examine your vitality expenditure and be in a caloric deficit lengthy sufficient so that you simply soften your stomach and reveal your six-pack. You can eat much less energy, and/or burn extra energy by means of bodily actions or cardio.

Reverse Engineer Your Way to a Great Set of Abs

Incorporating the reverse crunch in your coaching routine doesn’t simply ship a greater trying six-pack. It’s an missed strategy to construct a stronger and more healthy core. It’s time to cease avoiding ab work, get on the ground, and get these knees up.

References

  1. Avrahami, D., & Potvin, J. R. (2014). The scientific and biomechanical results of fascial-muscular lengthening remedy on tight hip flexor sufferers with and with out low again ache. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 58(4), 444–455.

  2. Burd NA, Andrews RJ, West DW, Little JP, Cochran AJ, Hector AJ, Cashaback JG, Gibala MJ, Potvin JR, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Muscle time below pressure throughout resistance train stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional artificial responses in males. J Physiol. 2012 Jan 15;590(2):351-62. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.221200. Epub 2011 Nov 21. PMID: 22106173; PMCID: PMC3285070.

  3. Baz-Valle E, Schoenfeld BJ, Torres-Unda J, Santos-Concejero J, Balsalobre-Fernández C. The results of train variation in muscle thickness, maximal energy and motivation in resistance skilled males. PLoS One. 2019 Dec 27;14(12):e0226989. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226989. PMID: 31881066; PMCID: PMC6934277.
  4. Huxel Bliven KC, Anderson BE. Core stability coaching for harm prevention. Sports Health. 2013 Nov;5(6):514-22. doi: 10.1177/1941738113481200. PMID: 24427426; PMCID: PMC3806175.
  5. Stokes IA, Gardner-Morse MG, Henry SM. Abdominal muscle activation will increase lumbar spinal stability: evaluation of contributions of various muscle teams. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2011 Oct;26(8):797-803. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2011.04.006. Epub 2011 May 14. PMID: 21571410; PMCID: PMC3157598.
  6. Lehman GJ, McGill SM. Quantification of the variations in electromyographic exercise magnitude between the higher and decrease parts of the rectus abdominis muscle throughout chosen trunk workouts. Phys Ther. 2001 May;81(5):1096-101. PMID: 11319934.
  7. Sarti MA, Monfort M, Fuster MA, Villaplana LA. Muscle exercise in higher and decrease rectus abdominus throughout belly workouts. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1996 Dec;77(12):1293-7. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(96)90195-1. PMID: 8976314.
  8. Duncan M. (2009). Muscle exercise of the higher and decrease rectus abdominis throughout workouts carried out on and off a Swiss ball. Journal of bodywork and motion therapies, 13(4), 364–367. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2008.11.008

  9. Durkee PK, Polo P, Muñoz-Reyes JA, et al. Men’s Bodily Attractiveness: Muscles as Fitness Indicators. Evolutionary Psychology. April 2019. doi:10.1177/1474704919852918 
  10. Kocahan T, Akınoğlu B. Determination of the connection between core endurance and isokinetic muscle energy of elite athletes. J Exerc Rehabil. 2018 Jun 30;14(3):413-418. doi: 10.12965/jer.1836148.074. PMID: 30018927; PMCID: PMC6028208.
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  12. Kumar T, Kumar S, Nezamuddin M, Sharma VP. Efficacy of core muscle strengthening train in continual low again ache sufferers. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2015;28(4):699-707. doi: 10.3233/BMR-140572. PMID: 25467999.

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