If you're looking for a more effective abdominal workout, try the reverse crunch. Where traditional crunches only get you so far, the reverse crunch helps take your ab routine to the next level.
How to do the Reverse Crunch
To get started with a reverse crunch, find a comfortable place to lay down.
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
- Focus on pushing your lower back flat to the ground. You should not be able to insert a hand between your back and the floor at any time during this exercise.
- Pull your feet off the floor and contract your abs to pull your knees in toward your chest.
- Lower your feet back to the starting position.
Repeat this move for 15 to 20 repetitions. Take a 30 second break, then repeat the process two or three times.
Modification: Toe Taps
If you're a beginner or your abdominals are simply weak, toe taps are a great alternative. They work the same muscles more gently.
- Start with your feet lifted and your knees bent so your legs are at about a 90 degree angle.
- Keeping your back flat on the floor, lower one foot and tap your toes on the ground.
- Return to the starting position, then repeat on the other side.
For the best results, double the amount of repetitions so you are completing 15 to 20 on each side.
If you're looking for more challenging ways to strength and sculpt your lower abdominals, there are a few great ways to take the reverse crunch up a notch.
The Full Crunch
The full crunch allows you to contract your abdominals more deeply than the reverse crunch alone.
- Begin with your feet on the floor, and your hands behind your head.
- Lifting your shoulders off the floor, draw your knees and elbows together so your body curls into a ball.
- Return to the starting position.
The advantage of the layout is that, in addition to working the entire abdominal region, it also engages the glutes and firms the thighs.
- Begin in a full crunch position with your knees and elbows together.
- Keeping your back as flat as possible, kick your feet straight out in front of you and lay back.
- Return to the starting position.
This is an advanced move. If done incorrectly, it can put tension on the lower back. This is why it should only be attempted once you've mastered the other options. Prevent injury by working your way up to it.
The Benefits of the Reverse Crunch
Why choose a reverse crunch and its progressions over the traditional crunch? It's easy to recruit "helper" muscles when completing the traditional crunch. Unfortunately, this takes the focus off of your abdominals and places it in other areas, such as the glutes, the inner thighs, and even the neck. The reverse crunch requires more focused engagement of the abdominals.
The reverse crunch specifically targets the lower region of the abdominals, a trouble area for men and women alike, as well as the external obliques, the muscles on the sides of your tummy that are responsible for pulling the muscles in. This is a power combo that contributes to the appearance of flat abs faster than if you simply completed the traditional crunch.
The reverse crunch has also been known to help correct posture problems. Not only are you keeping your back flat on the ground. You're tilting the pelvis as you contract the abs. This can help correct the curvature of your spine if it has been altered by pregnancy or sitting for long hours at a desk job. It's important to correct this to avoid back problems as you age and to walk taller on a daily basis.
Add the Reverse Crunch to Your Routine
Incorporating the reverse crunch into your fitness routine will help you take your abdominal workouts to the next level. Not only will your abs get stronger, but you'll move through life with better posture as well. Try the reverse crunch the next time you're hoping to kick your routine up a notch and see where it takes you.